Preview & squad for London Scottish (H)06/03/2015
Having underperformed against relegation-threatened Plymouth Albion in their most recent outing, Jersey are looking to bounce back and claim a scalp against play-off probables London Scottish.
The Exiles travel to the Channel Islands with a 14-point cushion over fifth-placed Rotherham, but keen to seal their top-four berth and continue their dominance in fixtures against Jersey.
The Islanders have won just one of the five encounters between the sides - the 20-17 home win back in October 2012, when tries by Guy Thompson and James Copsey secured their club's first-ever Championship win at the seventh time of asking. (click on scores for links to match reports)
Since then Scottish have racked up three bonus-point wins at the Athletic Ground in Richmond [41-33 in 2012/13, 29-3 last season and 38-17 in November last year], and a tight encounter at St Peter last Easter, when Jersey were denied a bonus point at the death, going down 17-25, in spite of tries by Drew Locke (pictured below) and Nicky Griffiths.
Shuffling his resources after the 18-17 defeat against Albion a fortnight ago, Head Coach Harvey Biljon has brought three players back into the Jersey starting line-up. Recent signing Fautua Otto returns on the wing, while Mark McCrea is selected at inside centre and Lewis Robling starts at fly-half in place of Jonny Bentley.
In the pack, Sam Lockwood returns at loosehead in place of Ignacio Lancuba, while Nick Haining starts at number 8 after missing his side's last three games through injury.
Bentley and Lancuba are on the Jersey replacements' bench, which also includes Dave Markham, the lone survivor from the 2012 win over the Exiles. [It is anticipated the visitors will have two members of their squad from that day on duty: skipper Mark Bright and winger Miles Mantella]
A wet start to 2015 meant that Jersey's three home games since the New Year have been played in muddy conditions at St Peter, but Saturday is expected to be spring-like and much firmer underfoot. This may test two of the Championship's tightest defences - each side has conceded 36 tries, fewer than anyone bar Worcester (27).
The Exiles have out-scored Jersey 58-39 on tries so far, with Bright claiming 19 of them, primarily via his side's effective rolling maul, while flying wingers Mantella and Matt Williams have seven apiece. The visitors also have the league's third-highest points scorer: Peter Lydon has 153 points to his credit, and is expected to switch from full-back to fly-half to cover for Dan Newton after the Welshman was banned for using foul language towards referee Matt Carley in the recent match against Plymouth.
A video link outlining Jersey's squad can be accessed at http://youtu.be/uVAfRI48NsE
Jersey squad v London Scottish 'H' - Greene King IPA Championship, Saturday March 6th, St Peter - k-o 3pm
Alex Rae (capt)
London Scottish - a potted history
Formed: London Scottish came into existence in a pub, namely Mackay's Tavern in the City of London on April 10th 1878.
Back in the day: The first season featured 15 matches,
and three of the opposing clubs are still in existence - Wasps,
Twickenham and Guy's Hospital.
Famous sons: the club has fielded 220 Scottish internationals and the same number of Lions captains as Leicester (four - Bill MacLagan in the 1880s, David Bedell-Sivright in 1903/4, Mike Campbell-Lamerton in 1966 and Gavin Hastings in 1993). Other Scottish internationals worthy of mention include a proliferation of back-row men - Mike Biggar, Rob Wainwright, Derek White and Ian Smith - as well as Paul Burnell, Alastair McHarg, Allan Lawson and Kenny Logan.
Jersey connections: actually not that many, but former Jersey Chairman Cliff Chipperfield played for the Exiles while a student in London in the 1970s, and last summer flanker Fred Silcock signed for Scottish after two seasons with Jersey. Sadly Fred couldn't shake off a serious knee injury and announced his retirement from the game in November.
League history: The club began the league era at level two, and by 1998 were a fully-professional unit playing in the Premiership. However this was also the season that the professional club went into administration, necessitating a year out while the original club was reformed and placed into Herts/ Middlesex Division One (level nine) in 2000. Four successive promotions kick-started the revival, and by going up three more levels the Exiles regained their original status from when the leagues began 28 years ago.
The Greene King IPA Championship this weekend
Round 17 is split neatly into three couples. On opening (Friday) night Bristol entertain Nottingham at Ashton Gate, while there's a potentially pivotal encounter in the struggle to avoid relegation, with Moseley hosting Doncaster.
Saturday sees games at Sixways, where top (Worcester) host bottom (Plymouth), and at St Peter, while on Sunday Bedford travel to Yorkshire Carnegie and Pirates host Rotherham, the latter encounter to be shown live on Sky.
For the full preview to round 17, see HERE
Plenty of other rugby to tell you about this weekend. The Championship match against London Scottish is one of three between the clubs: the 'second' teams, namely the Athletic and the Highlanders, will do battle in a Zoo Shield match in London at 12noon, while back on the Island it's a rare, and early, start for Jersey's Vets sides, the Wanderers, as they take on the Exiles Extra Bs at St Peter.
On Sunday Jersey Ladies have a home match against Tonbridge at 2.30pm, while the Colts travel to Trojans.
Returning to the Athletic, an extra match has been added to the fixture list at short notice, with the British Army making a whistle-stop trip to the Island next Tuesday (March 10th). The Army side are looking for match practice ahead of the annual Inter-Services Championship that takes place in April and May, and more specifically The Babcock Trophy against the Navy that forms part of that competition.
All members and supporters are encouraged to come up to the
game, which will be played on the main pitch at St Peter, kicking
off at 7pm. Food will be available in the clubhouse from 6pm for £8
- a chilli and rice combination with garlic bread from 6pm, with a
cheeseboard to follow.
Pre-booking through firstname.lastname@example.org would be a bonus to give an idea of numbers, but otherwise there will still be food for late-comers.
Enjoy your weekend's rugby!