Oaklands Rugby Team experienced grand final disappointment at Twickenham against a spirited but at times outplayed Hartpury College.
It was very much a case of ‘what could have been’ for Oaklands with the goal kickers experiencing a rare off day missing five kickable chances. Hartpury, to their credit took every opportunity that came their way and continued to keep the scoreboard moving. This was never better displayed than in the crucial late first half try that came from a Hartpury breakaway after Oaklands had been camped in the Hartpury twenty-two for just under ten minutes. This helped open up a Hartpury half time lead of 17-3.
Oaklands came out firing for the second half and imparted huge pressure on Hartpury leading to constant defensive infringements and a try for Oaklands scored by James Ayrton By this time the referee had seen enough foul play and sent a Hartpury player to the bin for offside. With five minutes to go Oaklands scored another try through Elliot Clements-Hill and this closed the gap to just four.
Oaklands with time running out continued to push and leave space behind and a Hartpury kick and chase led to the crucial final try for Hartpury with just seconds left.
Despite the disappointment Oaklands Rugby will take huge heart from their display and will undoubtedly return next year. Programme manager Dave Hesketh said:
“It was a great effort from the team and for long periods we were the better side but in a final it’s all about who takes home the trophy. Congratulations to Hartpury. The game was played in a fantastic spirit and was a real showcase for the outstanding young rugby talent coming through colleges at the moment. We will be back next year.”