Randall hat-trick helps Hartpury slay the Knights
THIS felt like the day when Hartpury finally arrived as a Championship side.
In a pulsating encounter, they got their reward for long periods of pressure when scrum-half Harry Randall, so often their star man, managed to sneak over on the back of a powerful forward drive.
In that moment he won the game, secured the bonus point and completed a personal hat-trick, but this was far from being a one-man show.
After a strong opening 15 minutes from the visitors, it was the Gloucestershire team who dominated territory and possession against one of the league’s high fliers. Two tries in either half, the last coming with just one minute remaining, to three from Doncaster, were just enough.
In almost perfect conditions, Knights were quicker out of the blocks and had the better of the opening exchanges, controlling possession and looking threatening.
Ironically, it was after Hartpury’s first real attack of the match that Knights took the lead. A flimsy tackle in midfield created the opening and, when the ball was fed to Andrew Bulumakau, there was nothing to stop the former Hartpury student galloping under the posts.
As Hartpury have already shown a few times this season, character is not something they lack and they were quickly back on to the front foot.
They were back in the game on 20 minutes. When phase after phase in the Doncaster 22 eventually produced the space for fullback Mike Wilcox to dive over wide out for his first of the season.
Perry’s conversion was narrowly wide but Hart- pury continued to have the better of things. They got their noses in front three minutes before the break as Randall grabbed his first. Ed Sheldon threatened and managed to off-load to the supporting Mat Gilbert.
His inside ball found Randall in space and the England U20 man had just enough gas to beat the covering tackle of Curtis Wilson.
Hartpury might have expected to lead at the interval, but Knights had the last laugh of the half. Good interplay down the narrow side between Tom James and Junior Bulumakau finally saw the Knights scrum-half run in untouched and when Simon Humberstone again added the extras it was 12-14 to the visitors.
They scored again almost immediately after the break. Hartpury failed to deal with the re-start and a few phases later it was prop forward Colin Quigley who rumbled over.
Critically for the hosts they kept the gap to a minimum. Three minutes later Hartpury were awarded a penalty close to the Knights posts. Randall, quicker in thought than anybody around him, tapped and was over before Doncaster could bring him down.
Two well-struck Humberstone penalties had Doncaster pulling away, before replacement James Williams kicked one for Hartpury.
Hartpury then laid siege for the Doncaster line and Randall’s late heroics – on the heels of a ferocious forward effort – snatched the win.
Match-winner: Harry Randall completes his hat-trick to see Hartpury home
Galloping in: Andrew Bulumakau scores for Knights