Preview to London Scottish (A) 14.11.1413/11/2014
Having played five Friday evening matches in two seasons since
attaining Championship status, Jersey now face three consecutive
Friday nights under lights. The first two are among the toughest
away trips of the season, London Scottish and Worcester; and then
it's the first-ever night match at St Peter, in the B&I against
This week's trip to the Athletic Ground in Richmond sees the Islanders take on a side who have become an established force in the Championship two months into their fourth season at this level. The Exiles needed a last-day escape in 2012 but have subsequently finished eighth and fifth, and this season have set their sights on a play-off berth.
Top-four ambitions looked very attainable during the opening phase of league action, with four wins and a defeat at Bristol by 42-17, although the form curve dipped once the British & Irish Cup started, with three successive defeats against Pontypridd, Bristol (again) and Connacht. This was followed by a narrow 16-9 defeat to Moseley on a water-logged pitch at Billesley Common, a game that culminated in acrimony as the Scots failed to convert a late attacking line-out and scuffles broke out at the final whistle, prompting skipper Mark Bright and a small number of Exiles' players to leave the arena prior to the usual formalities of handshakes, the players' tunnel and three cheers.
Jersey won the first encounter between the sides back in October 2012, with tries from James Copsey and Guy Thompson underpinning a 20-17 win, but have since suffered three defeats, including the penultimate game of last season, a 17-25 reverse at St Peter on Easter Saturday which saw Jersey slip to the bottom of the Championship table prior to the final day escape at Bedford.
News from the Jersey Camp
STOP PRESS - Friday 0840
Illness to two players forced late changes to Jersey's squad for tonight's match against London Scottish.
Both fly-half Aaron Penberthy and winger Mark McCrea were unwell and did not travel with their team-mates on the 9.15am flight to London Gatwick.
Jonny Bentley returns from the bench to the starting XV at fly-half, Grant Pointer switches from full-back to wing, and Jack Burroughs comes into the side at full-back. Bentley's place among the replacements is taken by Ed Dawson.
Amendments below in bold.
Alex Rae (capt)
Any previous? (Click for links to match reports)
October 2012: Jersey 20 Scottish 17
March 2013: Scottish 41 Jersey 33
November 2013: Scottish 29 Jersey 3
April 2014: Jersey 17 Scottish 25
London Scottish - a potted history
Formed: London Scottish FC was formed 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 this 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 earlier this month.
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 as when the leagues began 27 years ago.
Rugby this weekend
For the second week running half of the Championship programme is played on Friday night: the other games see Nottingham host Bristol while Bedford take on Yorkshire Carnegie at Goldington Road. The next day the Titans take on the Pirates, the Knights host Mose and Albion tackle the Warriors.
See HERE for the full preview to round 7
There are two Jersey v London Scottish matches this weekend, with the Highlanders travelling to the Island to take on the Athletic at St Peter. Kick-off is at 12noon, setting up the prospect of a 'Mikey-Rayer', starting with lunch in the Clubhouse while watching England v South Africa on the big screens (k-o 2.30pm). There's just enough time to confirm your lunch spot with Sean Dunne.
While I try to keep my inner statto under wraps, occasionally the wee blighter breaks free. He'd like to point out that:
* the 0-6 scoreline in last Friday's Yorkshire derby was the lowest-ever score in our league since the Championship was formed in 2009, 'beating' Coventry 6 Moseley 3 in April 2010
* until Aaron Penberthy popped one over at Brickfields last month, Jersey hadn't scored a drop-goal since Mike Le Booj struck in the 13-54 win at Cambridge in November 2012
* Saturday's 19-0 win over Plymouth was Jersey's biggest winning margin at home in 25 Championship matches
* the shut-out at St Peter last weekend was the first time Jersey have kept a clean-sheet in a competitive match since the tail-end of the 2011/12 season, when Tynedale were beaten 0-64 and Macclesfield defeated 39-0 in the space of a couple of weeks
* hopes that the Championship would break through the 20,000 barrier last weekend for total attendance at a set of six games - this would have been the first time since Xmas 2012 - were scuppered by the weather, with 19,441 braving the conditions #hardcore
That's enough stats... so enjoy your weekend's rugby!