Clark sinks Southend with brace
IAN Clark bagged a brace of tries as Hartpury cruised to victory over Southend.
The home side ended up with a total of seven tries, but they will be disappointed not to have notched even more as a plethora of chances went begging in the final quarter.
Darren Crompton got the ball rolling for Hartpury as the veteran prop touched down at the back of a maul on six minutes.
Hartpury then lost Clark to the sin bin for an offside offence and were forced to weather significant pressure.
Southend failed to convert their dominance into points, however, and the hosts punished them brutally with three tries in four minutes.
Steph Reynolds grabbed the first after being released on the left wing by Luke Cozens' long pass. Clark scored number two immediately after returning to the field as he and centre Craig Jackson showed fine football skills in capitalising on Cozens' initial kick.
And Clark was at the centre of the bonus point-clinching third as the winger intercepted a wayward Southend pass before popping the ball up to Alex Woodburn, who sprinted clear to score under the posts and grant Cozens an easy conversion.
Jack Jones pulled a score back for the visitors on half time with a penalty, with the deficit reduced further by Michael Guess' close-range try following a series of pick-and-goes shortly after the restart.
But skipper Chris Fortey swiftly cancelled out that effort with a try from a catch-and-drive four minutes later as Hartpury's pack turned the screw.
Replacement Callum O'Connell ghosted over in the shadow of the posts following Brad Field's tapped penalty just before the hour.
Southend's Harry Hudson then saw yellow for a reckless hack at the ball on the floor, and Clark added the seventh at the death as Hartpury went wide off a scrum, Craig Jackson slotting the extras.
HARTPURY COLLEGE: S Marsden (A O'Meara 64); S Reynolds, C Jackson, A Dancer, I Clark; L Cozens (T Stevenson 56), B Field; J Gibbons (C Thorne 61), C Fortey, D Crompton; S Raven, H Casson; J Head, A Woodburn (G Mills 50), T Ailes (C O'Connell 55)
SOUTHEND: M Billings (P Sansom 44); D Cleare, C Vaughan, T Ashton, B Burr; J Jones, J Daly (H Branch 62); M Guess, C Keenan (N Grier 62), C Strachan; A McClintock, J Douglas; S Fombo, A Barker (H Hudson 55), S Cook. Unused rep: T Bailey
Referee: Graham Dickens (RFU)