Jersey 17 Bedford 314/02/2015
Jersey ground out a tough victory in difficult conditions to
extend their unbeaten run to four games and edge above visitors
Bedford in the Championship table.
Head Coach Harvey Biljon paid tribute to the hard work of his squad as they held out for an eventually comfortable victory on a pitch left heavy by significant rainfall.
"The boys were very aware that we'd missed out on some results and lost some half-time leads, and so rather than take time off at the end of January they carried on working, and the results have come," he said.
"It was a difficult game for us - we'd trained all week for dry weather and a firm pitch and then it started raining on Friday morning and we had a week's rain in just over 24 hours, but we adapted well and I thought we were good value for the win.
"It wasn't easy and there were several things we had to address at half-time - we knew it was important to score points when we got into the right areas and managed to do that. It was a full squad effort and everyone made an impact."
Jersey tried to use their driving maul as a scoring weapon in the first half, but were frustrated by the Blues' solid defence and some handling errors. It was the visitors who eventually took the lead thanks to good work in a scrum that was in the ascendancy in the first period. A penalty decision gave James Pritchard an easy three points.
Jersey's lineout functioned well, with Martin Garcia-Veiga finding his jumpers and also being prominent in the loose, where Pierce Phillips, Sam Lockwood and Ryan Hodson also impressed.
Jersey were unable to turn spells of pressure into points until the final moments of the half, using a penalty advantage to spin the ball wide for Drew Locke to score.
Bedford started the second half as badly as they'd finishing the first, dropping the re-start kick and allowing Jersey to press and eventually score a second try from close range by Pierce Phillips.
Lewis Robling showed some good touches in his first start for Jersey at fly-half although two missed touch kicks from second-half penalties deprived his team of opportunities to attack. Robling was complemented by the powerful presence of Mark McCrea at inside centre.
Jersey's scrum also worked their way back to parity, with good impact from replacements Nacho Lancuba and Joe Buckle. There were few chances for Bedford centre Mike Le Bourgeois on his return to his native Island.
Both sides had chances for further scores, but largely cancelled each other out; the exception was a well-struck penalty from 40 metres by Aaron Penberthy which ensured his side had the cushion they needed.
Bedford's Director of Rugby Mike Rayer was frustrated at the defeat in conditions he described as "horrendous".
"The game was won and lost in a couple of minutes just before and soon after half-time and it was too much for us to come back after that," he said.
The result saw Jersey move to 32 points - already past the 29 they achieved in their first two Championship seasons - to take sixth place in the table and a one-point lead over Bedford ahead of Sunday's games. Earlier in the day Worcester had become the first team to guarantee a play-off place courtesy of 49-10 trouncing of Rotherham.
JERSEY: Penberthy, Foster, Locke, McCrea, Otto, Robling (Bentley 69), Fisilau (Glynn 78); Lockwood (Lancuba 61), Garcia-Veiga (Buckle 58), Williams (Herriott 72), Campbell, Phillips, Rae (c) (Noone 53), Hodson, Kaho (Graham 76).
BEDFORD: Kerr, Tapley, Le Bourgeois, Staff, Pritchard, Jones (Sharp 62), Veenendaal (White 62); Moss (Williams 64), Harris (Clare 48), Boulton (Currie 48), Howard, Wells (Gulliver 50), Buggea (Tupai 62), Fenton-Wells (c), Vandermolen.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys (RFU)
Star man: Martin Garcia-Veiga (Jersey)
Half Time: 7-3
Tries: Locke 40, Phillips 44
Conversions: Penberthy 40, 44
Penalty: Penberthy 67
Penalty: Pritchard 20