Jersey 2nd XV v Barking, and season to date09/11/2011
Jersey II's had our biggest test of the season to date against Barking II's before the 1st XV game on Saturday 5th November. This was the team who in January beat an under-strength 2nd XV by 80 points on their home patch, a defeat that we could not wait to avenge - everybody was buzzing to get onto the pitch and get stuck into them!
We started off very hard and fast and were awarded several penalties in the opposition half, which allowed us to put the ball in the corner to try and capitalise on pitch position. However we didn't make the most of our early opportunities and it remained scoreless until a couple of defensive errors allowed Barking to score the first try, completely against the run of play. This was converted to make it 7-0.
Going behind didn't faze us and we carried on doing what we were doing, sticking to the patterns which had been proven to work in previous games. Possession and territory carried on favouring the home side and after solid pressure Tim Corson went over the line to get Jersey's first points on the board, Ollie Harwood added the conversion; 7-7.
After the try we carried on applying the pressure but, just before half time, we allowed Barking back in front as they again capitalised on our match rustiness, scoring a second try. The conversion was unsuccessful making the score 12-7 to the Londoners.
The start of the second half brought fireworks to the pitch on Guy Fawkes' Night as the two teams collided in a fashion reminiscent of an old school Siam Cup! The aftermath of this was a full sin-bin: we were down to 12 players and Barking to 13!
Instead of going into our shells we fronted up and maintained the pressure. This determination eventually translated onto the scoreboard when after quick play from forwards and backs Jamie Allan fed Tim Corson to go over for his second try of the game, Ollie Harwood converting to give us a narrow 14-12 lead.
With not long left, and back to full strength, Jersey carried on doing what we do well with offloads in the tackle splitting right through the Barking defence, allowing for the forwards to provide the backs with quick ball and resulting in Charlie Hubert using his incredibly fast feet to go over in the corner. The resulting conversion was missed but we led 19-12.
Infringement at the breakdown by Jersey allowed Barking to close the gap with a penalty: 19-15. With time running out, Barking proceeded to camp inside the Jersey 22. Our defence, now more organised than it had been at the start of the game, was too strong to break and eventually the final whistle blew.
The boys had avenged their battering in January and won in a game which could have seen a much bigger score line in the home team's favour. Brian Rennison was a stand-out performer in the game, but it has to be said that every player showed their worth and the promise that Jersey II's have within the current squad. We now look forward to the future and the opportunities of getting more competitive games!
Early season report
The beginning of the competitive season got off to a flyer for the II's this year - we played three games and scored over 200 points whilst only conceding 10.
First up we had Banks at Grainville where we tried to integrate the new faces we have had at training into the game plan. This didn't take long as we cruised to a comfortable win over a determined Banks side; for the first game for a new team, everyone played exceedingly well and it was the best way we could have begun the season.
The next game brought along with it an away trip to France where we played St. Père. We were unsure what the test would be going to France but when the hosts picked us up and took some of the boys to the pub before the game, that set the tone for the weekend! We played their 2nd XV and played very well again with a solid 80-7 result.
Next up for the II's were Wimbledon! They had so very cruelly beaten us last season in the last minute of the game at their home ground so it was a game where we wanted revenge! We were on fire from the start, with the forwards working hard to produce the quick ball to let the backs run free. Apart from one brief lapse we maintained this pace throughout the game and ended up 42-0 winners.
The II's are really growing as a squad this year and we're continuing to make changes, starting with plans for the changing room! The team have offered to give up their time to paint the II's changing room so it is somewhere we can call home when we have a match. Now we just need to wait for a time when nobody needs to use the room for a few days so the fumes from the paint won't give anyone that 'Amsterdam' feeling.
We've been getting good numbers to training so far and have been producing solid displays and results. After putting the hard work in at training and on the pitch, we're looking to get a good run of games up to Christmas and again in the New Year. We know we're good enough to compete against teams from the UK so we are looking into the future with anticipation to make sure we make the most of our fixture list.