Jersey 2nds v Bury St Edmunds 26.11.11 match report

26/11/2011

Jersey 2nd XV 36 Bury St Edmunds 40 - the proverbial 'game of two halves'
By Ian Henderson

Bury St Edmunds' 1st team squad, minus just two players who had been unavailable to travel, along with a few promising youth players, made their way over to Jersey on the Friday afternoon ahead of Saturday's game at St Peter.

The visitors were fully committed to the game, as evidenced by their choice to spend Friday night at the Jersey Bowl knocking down pins rather than in town knocking down pints. Bury are currently lying in 3rd place in London 1 North, the same level as Guernsey 1st team compete at (Level Six on the RFU pyramid), so this was always going to be a hard match for the 2's.

Bury came out exactly as you would expect from a side that's already played 11 league games this season - fast and well organised. They played simple, patterned rugby but at a pace that the 2's struggled to keep up with initially.

It didn't take Bury long to convert this pressure into a try, scored out wide after dragging the Jersey defence around. The next 20 minutes followed the same pattern with the 2's under pressure, making stupid mistakes and giving away needless penalties. Bury took a drop goal and scored a further three tries in this period to get out to a 23 point lead.

Jersey finally started to retain some possession and, with just five minutes to go in the half, a kick through allowed Michael Soley, lurking on the wing, to split the Bury defence and run round under the posts for a try that was duly converted by Ollie Harwood.

This gave the score-line some respectability at 7-23, but unfortunately from the kick Bury re-gathered the ball and with a training pitch move, including a classic blocking line by their centre, they scored a simple looking try. Half time score 7-30.

Given the nature of the score-line, an observer could be forgiven for thinking that the mood in the 2's changing room would be depressed. However it was far from that! The boys were annoyed with themselves for silly errors and for the high penalty count. However they were positive that by playing the rugby they were capable of, they could push this Bury side hard, and that is exactly what happened.

Both teams made changes at half time, the Jersey changes made the bigger impact. In particular James Voss came into the second row and showed that he was keen to carry the ball from the start and Jay Hosty came onto the flank and fought the Bury pack for the ball at every breakdown.

The 2's now had possession and a desire to run at the visiting defence. A relaxed attitude from Bury when they came out to restart the match was all the opening Jersey needed. Now they were running at their opponents from all angles and all positions.

The Bury defence got dragged all over the park, with a couple of the Jersey tries started from inside their own half. From a seemingly unassailable half time lead, tries to Tommy Turner (2), Brian Rennison, Russell Holland and Jay Hosty had brought Jersey back up to within just 1 point of their opponents.

With five minutes to go, the score was 36-37, Bury having managed a solitary try in the second half, and Jersey had more of the momentum. A period of Bury pressure earned them a penalty and they chose to take the points rather than risk going for a try. In the end Jersey ran out of time and lost the match 36-40.

Overall Jersey 2's acquitted themselves well against a league team that is playing where our own first team were playing just a few years ago (2007/08). It's reflective of the current strength in the second team squad that the general feeling afterwards was that this was one that got away.

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