Jersey's TV appearance in Dragons' Den20/11/2015
A much-changed Jersey squad travel to the Valleys this weekend seeking to register their club's first win on Welsh soil.
The travelling squad's British & Irish Cup match against Newport Gwent Dragons Premiership Select will take place at the Pandy Park home of Cross Keys RFC, one of four Welsh Premiership sides within the Dragons region.
The Welsh side began their B&I Cup campaign in Ireland last Saturday, registering an impressive 10-34 win against Connacht Eagles at the Galway Showground; while Jersey had to be content with a draw after battling back from a 5-22 deficit at St Peter to draw 22-apiece with Greene King IPA Championship rivals Doncaster Knights.
Jersey's starting back-line feature changes in all seven positions: Aaron Penberthy moves forward from full-back to fly-half, with Rich Lane back in the number 15 shirt. Jack Moates is the scrum-half, Mark McCrea and Oli Evans occupy the wing berths while at centre Rhys Owen will make his competitive debut for Jersey alongside Mark Cooke.
Four of the forwards who started against Doncaster are retained in the pack who will take to the field at Pandy Park: prop Oliver Tomaszczyk, lock Will Rowlands and the back-row duo of James Freeman and Uili Kolo'ofa'i. They are joined by two players who featured as replacements against the Knights - hooker Nick Selway and flanker Gary Graham - while there are returns to action for prop Sean McCarthy and lock Pierce Phillips (pictured below by Jacquie Ranieri), who will captain Jersey for the first time.
Club captain Alex Rae is among the Jersey replacements, with a 5:2 split of forwards and backs.
The Islanders have been drawn against Welsh opponents twice in their three previous B&I Cup campaigns. The 2013 trip to Sardis Road in Pontypridd was cancelled due to heavy snow, with the Welsh side eventually winning the rearranged fixture 48-17, while last season the 'A' XV representing the Scarlets region, playing in the colours of Carmarthen RFC, defeated Jersey 24-9 at Church Bank in Llandovery.
The visiting squad will take heart from recent good form, especially in the defensive displays which have featured clean-sheets in their last two matches, the recovery against Doncaster preceded by an impressive 5-20 win away to London Scottish.
Sunday's match will be broadcast by Welsh TV channel S4C and screened in the Jersey RFC Clubhouse, which will open at 2.30pm ahead of the 3pm kick-off.
Looking beyond the trip to south Wales, Jersey will conclude November with a trip to Rotherham as the Championship resumes, while the next home match will be the league clash with old rivals Ealing Trailfinders under the Friday night lights at St Peter on December 4th.
One player who won't be involved for Jersey this weekend is back row player Charlie Butterworth. JRFC confirmed this week that Butterworth has left the Island and returned to his native Ireland. JRFC Chairman Bill Dempsey said:
"Charlie made a useful contribution during the opening stage of the season, and played in five Championship matches, but he hadn't settled in Jersey and there were personal reasons that led to his decision to head home to Ireland. The club wouldn't wish to stand in someone's way in such circumstances and we wish him all the best for the future."
Jersey v Newport Gwent Dragons Premiership Select XV - British & Irish Cup, Pool 5, Sun Nov 22nd, Cross Keys RFC, Pandy Park, k-o 3.00pm
Pierce Phillips (capt)