Gloucester-Hartpury come out on top in season opener
5 points for the visitors in Tyrrell's Premier 15s debut
The Sharks kick started their season in the new Tyrells Permier 15 league by welcoming Gloucester Hartpury to the Northern Echo Arena as part of the seasons first Darlington Mowden Park double header. With the fixture due to kick off at 16:00 Hartpury requested a delay in kick off due to a late arrival.
The game kicked off at 16:45 with the Sharks choosing to kick to Hartpury, a turnover led to Sharks having a large amount of possession in the first 10 minutes and forcing Hartpury to defend their 22. With Sharks high work rate and commitment in the tackle area applying pressure to Hartpury, they resorted to the boot of their fly half Ceri Large to get themselves out of their own half. In the slippy conditions both teams struggled to retain the ball, Hartpury managed to optimize on this and managed to work their way into Sharks 22. Displaying strong handling skills to work the ball from side to side Hartpury stretched the Sharks defense, ultimately creating space on the right wing for Ceri Large to cross the try line and secure the first points of the game. Megan Goddard converted the kick to secure the 7 points.
Sharks returned to running their hard lines and Hartpury buckled under the pressure with their hooker Eleanor Gilbert receiving a yellow card as a result of repeat offences. As Gilbert left the pitch Hannah Morton continued her good season from the tee kicking over the penalty and securing Sharks first points in the league.
Hartpury where awarded a penalty which they kicked for the 3 points and then secured a try via Lund, Goddard missed the conversion before half time making the half time score 3-15.
Head of Program Justin Loveridge and Lead Coach Mike Umaga made three changes at half time with Rianna Manson coming on in the back row for Charlotte Lewis, Roshini Turner coming on in the second row to replace Sarah Bush and Joanne Edwards replacing Jemima Merrin on the wing.
The second half started with Hartpurys fly half Ceri Large continuing to pull the strings and move her team into Sharks half, the handling from Hartpury allowed them to maximize on spaces being created and secure their third try of the game via their wing Bethan Jones, Goddard missed the conversion.
Sharks continued to get across the gain line with both Elle Boor at Hooker and Katherine Hobson standing out with their hard running lines and success at getting past Hartpurys defense. Hartpurys kicking tactic securing plenty of ball for Hobson, she continued to run the ball back always beating first up defenders and finding herself one on one with Hartpurys full back Mary-Ann Gittings who had a great game defensively. Sharks never managed to maximize on these opportunities, staying on 3 points whilst Harptury pulled away with a converted try from Rachel Lund, with Goddard securing the conversion.
Hartpury secured their final points of the game from a driving maul with Milly Wallis claiming the try, Goddard missed the converstion. With Hartpury continuing to apply pressure in Sharks 22 a driving maul resulted in a yellow card to Sharks captain Ruth Nash for collapsing.
Sharks defended well a player down for the 10 minutes managing to force Hartpury out of their half, Hartpury under pressure kicked to Hobson who ran it back and Sharks made camp in Hartpurys 22 for the last 8 minutes of the game. Rebecca Scholes who had replaced Georgina Roberts at fly half managed to distribute the ball wide and Sharks made a break finding some space on the right of the pitch but Hartpurys Mary-Ann Gittings put in a key tackle and stopped Sharks momentum.
The game finished with Gloucester Hartpury winning 32-3, Sharks continue to look forward, taking on Richmond away next Saturday.