Leeds (A) - B&I Cup - 21.10.1223/10/2012
British & Irish Cup, Pool 5
Played at Clifton Park, York
Leeds Carnegie 27 Jersey 33
A performance of skill and determination gave Jersey a
richly-deserved first win of the season.
Helped by their opponents going through an extended bad patch during the middle part of the game, Jersey wrested control of the match from Leeds and retained it to the final whistle, in spite of some nervous late moments.
Jersey travelled east from their Leeds hotel in thick fog - thankfully it had lifted by kick-off time - and without hooker Dave Felton, who was taken ill over night and had to be replaced by Steve Boden, with Ben Evans coming onto the bench.
The first test for the home defence was set by the charging runs of Glenn Bryce and Guy Thompson, and this early pressure produced a penalty right in front of the posts, comfortably slotted by Mike Le Bourgeois. The fly-half had the ball again when Carnegie conceded another penalty in the Jersey half, but a decent touch-finder was wasted when lineout possession was lost.
The Yorkshire side began to assert themselves in attack, firstly through the forwards and then with a threatening three-quarter move snuffed out by the tackling of Le Bourgeois and James Copsey. But Leeds kept possession and Jersey were exposed, not for the first time this season, by a kick through. Dave McCormack almost gathered Joe Barker's grubber, but lock Matt Smith managed to secure the ball close to the try-line and offloaded to Jamel Chisholm to score.
Former Jersey man Dave Doherty kicked a successful conversion - the start of a good day for both kickers, who each missed just a single shot at goal. Doherty soon added a penalty, one of a sequence of offences that earned a team warning for Jersey skipper McCormack. To make matters worse for the visitors, 'Macca' was soon out-of-action when he suffered a groin injury and was replaced by Brendan O'Brien.
From this inauspicious position early in the second quarter, Jersey rallied impressively. Leeds struggled to contain their opponents without transgressing, and conceded four penalties within range - one for a scrum offence, another for a tackler's failure to roll away after stopping a James Voss surge, and two for offside. Crucially, Le Bourgeois slotted all four to put his side 15-10 ahead, a lead they retained when the half-time whistle blew just after Doherty's lone miss.
The visitors could have been further ahead - O'Brien hared through a gap but lost his footing when approaching the final defender and there were powerful bursts by Ashley Maggs, a tireless presence at first receiver, and Sean McCarthy, having his most influential game thus far. But at least they had their noses in front, with all the benefits that brought in terms of self-belief.
Just as in the first half, Le Bourgeois struck a penalty two minutes after the kick-off, only for his side to immediately surrender an attacking platform through losing an attacking lineout. But the set-back was short-lived, and the visiting posse sensed a real chance when Carnegie hooker Phil Nilsen committed one technical offence too many and was sin-binned. Time to extend, the lead, surely, and when a Leeds scrum on their 22 yielded only scrappy ball, Guy Thompson snaffled possession and worked his way over.
However the Islanders couldn't maintain a 13-point advantage for long, Leeds countering with an attacking lineout that led to a soft - for Jersey eyes - try for replacement hooker Joe Graham.
Having experienced men like Paul Rodgers, Nathan Hannay and Jon Brennan to join the fray was a bonus to Jersey, with Brennan's arrival causing additional problems to a Leeds front row that had been up against it all afternoon. Rob Baldwin, only recently arrived as a replacement, was the next home player to see yellow for preventing quick ball, and Le Bourgeois added three more points.
The final quarter was a more mixed affair for Jersey. Continued scrum pressure, and more surging runs, especially by Maggs, created a try for Donovan Sanders who was first to the breakdown after Guy Thompson went close.
But the visitors also lost two men to the sin-bin - Hannay and O'Brien - for spoiling Leeds' attacks, and conceded a 77th-minute try to the slippery Curtis Wilson, setting up a nerve-wracking finale.
Six points adrift, Carnegie strove to find a winning try. One line break offered Smith a possible run to the line, but Copsey was too quick for the second-row and brought him to ground. A tiring Leeds side coughed up two final penalties, enabling Jersey to clear their lines and complete an important victory.
Leeds Carnegie: Ben Harris (Sam Lockwood 61), Phil Nilsen (YC 43, Joe Graham 55), Ben Hooper (Mark Tampin 48), Matt Smith, Dan Hemingway (Mike Myerscough 48), Richard Beck, Chris Walker (Rob Baldwin 55, YC 58), Jacob Rowan, Craig Hampson (James Doherty 61), Joe Barker (Curtis Wilson 47), Jamel Chisholm (Joe Graham 47-55), Freddie Burdon, Oli Goss, David Doherty, Christian Georgiou.
Jersey (sponsored by Locate Jersey and jersey.com): Sean McCarthy, Steve Boden, James Gethings (Jon Brennan 51), Rob Anderson, Dave Markham, James Voss (Nathan Hannay 57, YC 61), Kingsley Lang (Paul Rodgers 47) Guy Thompson, Dave McCormack (Brendan O'Brien 22, YC 73), Mike Le Bourgeois, Ed Dawson, Ashley Maggs, Donovan Sanders, James Copsey, Glenn Bryce. Replacements not used: Ben Evans, Chris Levesley, Ed Tellwright.
Referee: Charles Sampson (SRU)
Kickers: Doherty (Leeds) 5 from 6; Le Bourgeois (Jersey) 8 from 9.
Tries: Chisholm 15, Graham 50, Wilson 77
Conversions: Doherty 15, 50, 77
Penalties: Doherty 19, 61
Tries: Thompson 47, Sanders 69
Conversion: Le Bourgeois 69
Penalties: Le Bourgeois 2, 26, 30, 37, 39, 42, 58
Report by Tom Innes, reproduced by kind permission of the Jersey Evening Post