BUCS Double-Header: Cardiff Met stun Hartpury in second-half to win 26-25 at Kingsholm

Cardiff Met celebrate with their 'ultras' at full-time

In the second game of an all Hartpury and Cardiff Met double-header at Kingsholm Stadium, it was the side from the Welsh capital that ended the game as victors.

At the start of the day, there was just one points separating Dan Murphy and Danny Milton’s teams in the BUCS Super Rugby table. By the end of Wednesday night, that gap had grown to five points, with Cardiff Met winning the game 26-25.

For the first 40 minutes, Kingsholm was blanketed with rain, the conditions meaning that it was only in close quarters that the game could be played. This could no more be seen than from the opening try, where Cardiff Met went over through Ewan Guy.

Gaining good field position from a scrum penalty, the South Wales side drove towards the posts. Having knocked on the door for well over 10 phases, it was Guy who eventually made his way over, Brad Roderick-Evans duly converting.

Undeterred by their slow start, the next two chances for points available to Hartpury, they took them. Each came from moments of Cardiff Met ill-discipline, Joe Winfield splitting the sticks with a relative ease from distance on the second occasion. A lead was not far for the de facto home side, whose growing dominance led to being awarded a penalty try, while Connor Chapman was sent to sinbin.

When the half was up, there were no extra points for either side. That’s not to say there weren’t opportunities as both goal-kickers missed from the tee, Hartpury even spilling the ball over the line, the conditions proving too difficult to contend with.

When the whistle was blown to begin the second period, the rain had stopped. Suddenly, that bar of soap from the first half resembled something more like a rugby ball and the game burst into life.

Much like in the first half there was a penalty try, Chapman for all the will in the world seeming to have crossed over at the back of the maul, only for the referee to award a full seven points and show Matt Hilary a yellow card.

That advantage for Met would grow further shortly after. It was by virtue of the set-piece once more, a maul deep in Hartpury’s 22m was spread wide after getting nowhere, Roderick-Evans’ pop pass inside finding Joe Westwood who went in under the posts.

Westwood was in on the action in the not too distant future too. Having again camped themselves in Hartpury territory, this time a strong scrum was the architect of a score for the outside centre who scored from the first phase powerfully after receiving Rory Morgan’s bullet pass inside.

Having earned themselves a healthy 13 point lead, Cardiff ended the game a man down and their nerves fraught. This nervousness began with a maul try for Hilary, the back-row splintering away from the maul to give the sizeable home crowd some hope with not long left.

That hope would grow further as momentum swung entirely the way of the three-time BUCS Super Rugby Championship winners. Planting themselves just 10 meters out, Met’s Barny Langton was shown yellow for illegally stopping Hartpury from scoring, with Hilary adding a second try with the clock dead and give his side a losing bonus point.

“Coming down to Hartpury on its own is hard enough,” Cardiff Met skipper, Joe Cowell, said. “So, coming down to Kingsholm with all their fans and a couple of our fans coming down, it was a big occasion for us.

“Going in at half-time we felt like we were sort of in control. Defensively we were really good, just a couple of times and things we let slip a little bit, but we never really thought we were too far out of it.

“Just coming out in the second half and putting the wrongs right. I think we did that really well and I can’t fault the boys for effort.”

Having had a stop-start beginning to the new season, this win in Gloucestershire was Met’s third on the trot. Having experienced losses to local rivals Cardiff University and the University of Exeter, it very much seems as though Danny Milton’s side have found form once more.

Cowell’s own performance was indicative of this, the captain who gained appearances for Cardiff Rugby last year in the Champions Cup when the main squad was ravaged by Covid-19, extremely pleased with how his teammates fared against such staunch opposition.

“It just shows the character of the boys I think,” Cowell said. “Obviously losing to Cardiff and back-to-back with Exeter is not very good for the morale, but I think the way that we turned around and looked at it in a sort of positive way, we sort of said to each other ‘the season is not over’.

“It is a really long season. Our boys know that anyway, but to be sure that we put the wrongs right. I think every week we are slowly improving. We are showing that in training, we are working hard, boys are pushing boundaries and stuff, so just to come out and get a win is what we can ask for. I am really proud of the boys.”