Hartpury face "massive challenge" away to Jersey

Ben Vellacott Hartpury/Gloucester image courtesy Hartpury RFC/LNC ImagesChampionship basement side Hartpury RFC are buoyed by improved performances as they face one of their toughest tests of the season at Jersey Reds RFC tomorrow (1500).
Resurgent Pury head to Jersey having beaten Richmond and Nottingham at home and surprising second-placed Ealing before eventually losing 21-14.
Now they face a Jersey side who scored seven tries in a 52-14 victory at Hartpury in October.
Hartpury director of rugby John Barnes admits “Jersey will provide us with a massive challenge this weekend.
“We are going to a place where they don’t lose very often, so for us to take anything out of the game is going to require another big performance.
“We know them to be a big, physical side with one of the best set pieces in the Championship.  We need to compete in those areas, so the forwards will need to be at their best for the full 80 minutes.”
Jersey's recent form has been good although they did suffer a surprising 24-14 home to defeat to London Scottish last month.
The Reds stand-out result was in November, when they ended table topping London Irish's unbeaten start with an eye-catching 17-14 home win.
Having performed similar heroics at Ashton Gate last season to bring down eventual champions Bristol Bears, Jersey have proved themselves more than capable of living with the Championship's best.
Former Hartpury student Rory Bartle has had a good spell with the Reds and become an integral part of the starting back row.
Hartpury have no fresh injury concerns so should be able to name a similar squad to that which won a 21-20 nail-biter against Nottingham in the last round.
Pury will be hoping to retain the services of influential scrum-half Ben Vellacott (pictured by LNC Images) who has been playing on dual registration from Gloucester Rugby in the past two matches and who scored two tries at Ealing.
“We were obviously very pleased with the Nottingham result,” said Barnes.
“We felt that it was likely to be a tight game and we needed to ride our luck at the end, when they missed a touchline conversion that would have taken the points away from us.
“The defeat at Ealing was a big disappointment, after the way we played for the first hour, so I was very pleased with the way the players picked themselves up after that.
“As it happened, with Richmond getting their own win versus Ealing the next day, the four points that we got from Nottingham could be absolutely vital in our efforts to stay in the Championship.”

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