Jersey Athletic match reports19/09/2012
Doug Tranter Cup Final
Jersey Athletic 50 Jersey United Banks 12
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Jersey Athletic 36 LQ Lydian Lions 12
As the JRA league got underway, Jersey Athletic, JRFC's renamed second string, took on a Lydian Lions side who were leaner and meaner than last season and scenting a victory over their old adversaries.
The game started in typically attritional fashion, both sides fielding big packs and eager to attain dominance early on. Over-enthusiasm at the ruck led to Les Q straying offside and conceding a couple of penalties which allowed Athletic to control field position in the opening quarter. Les Q came back strongly however with some bullocking runs from front rower Martyn Hawkes, scattering defenders in his wake until he was forced from the field with an early injury.
The deadlock remained until Jersey capitalised on further Lion's indiscipline at the ruck, referee Ollie Gleave awarding a penalty. From the resulting line out Mark White slipped a neat inside pass to unleash winger Dr Wyn Roberts (above) across the gain line. A sniff of the try line was all the debutant needed as he combined pace and footwork to finish in the corner.
Athletic immediately pressed their advantage, the forwards mauling powerfully into the Lions 22 before the ball was spread to the Jamie Allan in the backs who was stopped 5 metres short by a superb tackle from his opposite number James Worsley. Young number 8 Tim Corson was first to react as he scooped the ball up mid stride and drove over the line to put the A's two scores ahead.
Rather than capitulate this only served to invigorate the LQ side as they upped the pace of their game, lively scrum half Nick Portch marshalling his forwards well and demanding quick ball. Now they were on the front foot, the backs were able to punch holes in the Jersey defence with Tommy Butler putting powerful centre Kevan Crowell through a gap and stampeding for the try line. A's full back James Milner was able to drag him towards touch but not before he offloaded to centre partner Worsley who went in under the posts, to the delight of his team-mates and the travelling support.
Les Q continued to pressure the Jersey line but a key turnover just before half time allowed Tim Corson to break from 40 metres for his second try and the teams turned round with Athletic relieved to be enjoying a little breathing space, leading 17-7.
The second half opened with a flurry of pressure from the Lions who, with improved discipline, were now earning penalties from the A's. This allowed them to lay siege to the Jersey line and the forwards engaged in a monumental battle as the Jersey pack desperately defended wave after wave lead by the carrying of Sam Coe from number 8. Ironically after all the hard work done by the big men it took a winger to finally score, Leigh Cornish skipping past several of his former academy team mates and diving over to the left of the posts to bring the Lions within five points.
Barely had Jersey restarted when the quick thinking Portch again broke down the left flank and put Butler into space, only a scrambled clearing kick by Allan saving Jersey after his chip and chase. The Lions turned again to their rolling maul but Jersey responded strongly, managing to split the drive until evergreen captain Ian Henderson put in a try saving tackle on Poe and held him up over the line.
The narrow escape allowed Jersey to clear their lines and march downfield. From a scrum on the halfway line Sion Williams fed Roberts down the blind side and the flying doctor stepped three defenders on his way to his second try under the posts. Clearly inspired by the winger's finishing, Corson broke from the base of a scrum a few minutes later and was able to outpace the cover defence for his hat-trick try to put the game almost out of sight with five minutes remaining.
There was time for one more Jersey score as another Roberts' break lead to the ball being spread wide on the right, the centres roles being played by front rowers 'Cubie' Kenwright and Bruno Pirouet, until Allan jogged over unopposed. Will Falle (pictured above on the charge) notched the conversion, his third of the afternoon.
The Lions almost had the last say in the match as excellent debutant centre Crowell broke strongly again and was brought down just short of the Jersey line. With the final whistle Les Q were left to dwell on opportunities missed and plan their revenge for the return fixture.
Doug Tranter Cup Final
Jersey Athletic 50 Jersey United Banks 12
The first game of the season saw a strong Jersey Athletic team take the field eager to defend the Doug Tranter Cup in a match held over from last season. The occasion held particular significance given that club stalwart Sheila Tranter, widow of former president Doug, had passed away last month.
Early exchanges were fairly even with both Jersey and Banks using their big ball carriers to make inroads but struggling to convert territory into points.
The deadlock was finally broken with a sweeping Jersey backs move unleashing Henry Frost down the middle of the park. Good work from the Banks full-back prevented him touching down but he was able to offload to Jamie Allan for the score.
A lack of match practice was evident as Jersey were unable to press home their advantage and continued to cough up possession through unforced errors. Banks responded by sending Charlie Clyde-Smith and Greg Herold-Howes on rampaging runs through the Jersey defence which were narrowly thwarted by key turnovers. Ross 'Cubie' Kenwright was particularly prominent in the rucks and continued to make a powerful nuisance of himself all afternoon.
Some good interplay from the Jersey backs led to a breakdown into midfield. The ball popped out to A's full back Jamie Crawford who sighted an unmarked Matt Hill on the right flank. An inch-perfect cross-field kick allowed the lightning quick Jersey winger to outstrip the cover defence and touch down under the posts for the first of his three tries for the afternoon.
Newly converted forward Luke Trotter then got in on the action following a quickly taken tap penalty by scrum half Sion Williams - giving a Sonny-Bill-esque offload before working around to receive the scoring pass himself.
Banks were to have the final say of the half though as their forwards once again battled downfield. The front row of Shawn Queripel, Phil Matete and Andy Duke had matched their opposite numbers in the scrum with aplomb and now took to charging at a placid Jersey defensive line making heavy inroads. The move culminated in number 8 George Banks barrelling over the Jersey line for their first score of the afternoon.
Half time saw the introduction of old head Josh Chamier in the
front row and Harry Cochrane at scrum half with many supporters
keen to see how the highly rated youngster would perform in his
senior debut. The answer was 'superbly' as the A's put together 10
minutes of scintillating rugby
culminating in 3 quick tries. First Chamier unleashed Matt Hill down the touchline for his second following several big drives from Tim Corson and Jamie Allan.
Jersey then returned the subsequent kick off with the ball passing through every pair of hands until Banks simply ran out of defenders allowing Jamie Crawford to saunter over the line unopposed.
Finally young Cochrane, who was enjoying a great tussle with opposite number Rob Allen, took matters into his own hands and broke down a tiny blindside from a scrum on the halfway line. Escaping the back row with excellent footwork he then beat winger Ed Le Gallais in the narrowest of spaces before outpacing the Banks full back to the corner for a score that even had the visiting supporters begrudgingly applauding.
To their credit Banks didn't crumble under this pressure and came back with renewed vigour lead by influential captain Rory Steel. They forced penalty after penalty from the A's and piled pressure on near the Jersey line. Another Kenwright turnover seemed to have got Jersey out of trouble but as they tried to play out from their own try line Charlie Clyde-Smith intercepted and strolled under the posts for the most casual of scores.
Jersey remained in the ascendancy at the end of the game though. Firstly through Matt Hill's hat trick try and finally after former Academy team-mates Allan and Chamier combined strongly down the middle of the park allowing the ball to be recycled quickly to Corson flying down the wing, the rangey number 8 earning his reward for an afternoon of hard graft.
Both teams had played to the end in a great spirit and with no little show of skill. As winning captain Ian Henderson pointed out as he accepted the trophy: "It was exactly the sort of game the Tranters would have loved!"
Words: James Milner; Pics: Will Grant