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Chris Green: Margin of defeat at Hartpury College harsh on Southend Rugby Club
SOUTHEND’S director of rugby Chris Green felt the 51-15 defeat at Hartpury College was harsh on his side.
The Seasiders trailed by just six points with 20 minutes of the match remaining but conceded a flurry of late points.
That left Green disappointed by the final margin of Southend’s second reverse of the season.
“Hartpury were the better team by far, but I think it was a harsh scoreline after we got ourselves back into the game,” said Green.
“You can’t claw your way back twice against that quality of opposition though and if you look at the 20 points scored at the start and those in the sin bin period then that’s where we just weren’t at the races.”
Hartpury opened the scoring after just 49 seconds when winger Jaike Carter touched down and Billy Burns slotted home the conversion.
The home side doubled their lead six minutes later when Steve Leonard broke through to release Ben Vellacott.
But Southend hit back with Michael Guess capping a series of driving mauls to touch down for his third try in two games to cut Hartpury’s lead to 14-5.
Seconds later, Hartpury extended that advantage when referee Philip Davies awarded a penalty try for a deliberate knock on.
With play continuing to switch ends, Southend replied when number eight James Kellard touched down but the conversion was missed.
The score stayed at 21-10 until half-time and, seven minutes after the break, the Seasiders bagged another try when centre Sam Nash went past three tackles to score and bring his side to within six points of their hosts.
But that seemed to spark Hartpury back into life and Burns soon kicked a penalty before Sam Pitchford added a try and Southend’s scrum half Lee Sandberg was sent to the sin bin.
Hartpury then called on 29-cap Samoa international Terry Fanolua for his first appearance in English rugby since 2006 and the 39-year-old made an immediate impact as his glorious long-range pass set Steph Reynolds in to score.
Reuben Haile then also touched down and, although Southend made four changes, they were unable to contain the now rampant Hartpury as lock Simon Linsell added a further two tries in the last three minutes to take the final score to a resounding 51-15.
The defeat pushed the Seasiders down to seventh in the table and they will now be looking to bounce back against new boys Ampthill at Warners Bridge this weekend.