Jersey Reds 23 Worcester Warriors 1720/08/2016
Jersey Reds finished their pre-season trio of matches in the best possible style with an impressive win over Premiership side Worcester Warriors.
The home side may have started slowly, but picked up their game late in the first half and delivered 40 minutes of stunning, clinical rugby after the break to nail down the victory. It was the Reds' second win over Worcester at St Peter, after the 23-21 Greene King IPA Championship victory in March 2015.
With the wind at their back in the first half, Jersey tried to set up good field positions but were frustrated and couldn't execute their intended plays. With the clock approaching half an hour played, the Warriors scored first thanks to a deft scoring pass given by Ben Howard to Cooper Vuna on the left wing.
The Reds got in front with Joe Buckle's mauled try and eight points from the boot of Jack Cuthbert; the full-back missed his opening penalty shot from inside his own half - although he had the distance - but then scored with two penalties and a conversion.
Eight points ahead at half-time, Jersey started strongly after the break and 10 minutes of almost relentless pressure culminated in a try in the corner for Lewis Robling after good hands by both backs and forwards, including James Freeman, captaining the Reds for the first time in the absence of Pierce Phillips, who had been granted leave to attend his brother's wedding.
Strong set-piece work led to another Jersey try when scrum-half Kieran Hardy darted over from the back of a powerful scrum. Warriors roared back into contention with a second try for Vuna from Wynand Olivier's floated long pass, and a fine run up the right wing by Andy Short, but the Reds held firm in the closing stages - continued strong work at the set piece enabled possession to be retained and Worcester never came close to what could have been the winning score.
"It was a performance to be immensely proud of against a powerful outfit," said Reds' Head Coach Harvey Biljon. "The defence was fantastic, our work-rate and energy were outstanding and my selection headaches haven't got any easier!
"Our pre-season has been building up to this, and the effort by the whole squad has been really impressive, backed up by our strength and conditioning work.
"Am I worried that people will notice Jersey because we've beaten a Premiership team? Maybe they will, but for now I'm focusing on a great win. It's not results that count in pre-season, it's whether you can convert them into results once the real action starts, but I'm very pleased where we've got to at this stage."
Worcester Head Coach Carl Hogg admitted his side had a lot of work to do before starting their Aviva Premiership campaign at Twickenham against Saracens in a fortnight.
"It's very disappointing - we didn't manage the conditions well, unlike Jersey, and we failed to hold onto the ball which meant we couldn't create any pressure. We go to Munster next weekend and we are going to have to improve considerably both for that game and our opening league matches."
JERSEY REDS: Cuthbert; Watkins, King, Davies, Otto; Cope, Fisilau; Thomas, Buckle, Kerrod, McKern, Campbell, Freeman (c), Graham, Haining. Replacements (all used): Selway, Woolmore, Tampin, Voss, Kolo'ofa'i, Doyle; Hardy, Katz, Eastwell, Robling, Lane.
WORCESTER WARRIORS: Howard; Short, Te'o, Willison, Vuna; Heathcote, Arr; Leleimalefaga, Bregvadze, Johnston, Cavubati, Scotland-Williamson, Dowson (c), Kirwan, Faosilva. Replacements (all used): Annett, Bower, Daniels, O'Callaghan, Van Velze, Barry; Baldwin, Humphreys, Lamb, Olivier.
REFEREE: Craig Maxwell-Keys (RFU) Assistants: Phil Watters, Adam Leal
Half Time: 13-5
Tries: Buckle 37, Robling 48, Hardy 59
Conversions: Cuthbert 37
Penalties: Cuthbert 30, 34
Tries: Vuna 27, 65, Short 68
Conversion: Lamb 68