Preview to Stourbridge (a) 15.10.1113/10/2011
Preview - Stourbridge v Jersey
For the third weekend running, Jersey tackle a team from the lower reaches of the SSE National League One table who have just a single victory to their name so far this season.
But if the league table suggests Jersey could be favourites for Saturday's trip to Stourbridge in the Black Country, there are plenty of signs to the contrary. The 45-5 thumping of Wharfedale at St Peter on Saturday may have been straightforward, but away fixtures are a different matter, as the Islanders know to their cost after the 19-16 reverse at Cinderford the weekend before.
Contrary to the old adage, the league table may lie, especially during the early weeks of the season, and additionally it is clear that there are no pushover teams making up the numbers in National One, as has sometimes happened when a club runs into difficulties and goes into freefall - Manchester and Newbury being recent examples.
Many games that may on paper have appeared easy have turned out to be anything but - just last weekend Barking pulled off a stunning away win at Fylde, by a comfortable margin (13 points) and with 14 men after a first-half red card; meanwhile Stourbridge took the lead against leaders Ealing and, after falling behind, recovered boldly to claim a losing point (22-29).
Having run Ealing close away from home, Stour will certainly fancy their chances of going one better against Jersey at their well-appointed Stourton Park crowd in front of the large number of former players who are convening for a pre-match lunch. The home crowd will be looking to their side to add to their only win of the season so far, a 19-16 success at Birmingham Bees on September 24th.
Director of Rugby Neil Mitchell has assembled a strong coaching line-up, starting last season with the 18-times-capped Springbok full back Thinus Delport to look after the backs, and bolstered this summer with the arrival of Worcester hooker Chris Fortey as Forwards Coach.
Both of the 'big names' are registered to play as well as coach, but injury has prevented Delport from joining the fray so far, while Fortey remains on the books at Worcester and has been a regular face on the Warriors' bench (and coming off it) this season rather than being able to pull on a Stour shirt.
The Stourbridge pack has been bolstered this season with the arrival of former Leicester, Coventry and Cambridge lock Robbie Hurrell, while the return of experienced prop Adam Sturdy was one factor that made last weekend's Ealing game such a well-contested one.
In the backs, brothers Nathan and Alistair Bressington provide some essential gas, and plenty of tries, older brother Alistair having broken his sibling's record of 17 tries in a season with 19 of his own in 2006/07.
Fly-half Mark Woodrow has been a reliable source of points with his goal-kicking this season, even if he has some way to go before threatening the club's kicking records, a number of which are still held by Jersey's Head Coach Ben Harvey from his time at Storurton Park during the early 'noughties'.
Although his team for this Saturday remains unconfirmed, Harvey could be in the luxurious position of being able to name an unchanged Jersey XV this Saturday for the first time this season. No fresh knocks were picked up against Wharfedale, and with Mike Le Bourgeois settling in at fly-half, James Copsey at centre, Glenn Bryce at full back and winger Ashley Maggs settling on his return to the fray, the back line is performing well in spite of missing the talents of Nicky Griffiths, Ross Broadfoot and Dai Bishop.
The experience of Jim Brownrigg has helped the Jersey pack, providing sage advice for hooker Charlie Clyde-Smith and allowing Paul Rodgers to show the more expansive side of his game from flanker. Impact from the bench, a key factor in the away win at Rosslyn Park three weeks ago, is also likely to be an important card in Harvey's hand.
Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from Jersey
v Stourbridge through the following channels:
• Preview on BBC Radio Jersey's 'Sportscene' from 6- 7pm on Friday, and regular updates on Saturday afternoon
• Preview in Friday's JEP, and full match coverage on Monday
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby forum
• Match report on Channel 103 at 5.10pm on Saturday
• Highlights on Channel TV at 6.15pm on Monday, and online