Jersey 21 Leinster 'A' 22


Holders Leinster 'A' guaranteed themselves a B&I knockout place as pool five winners thanks to a hard-fought win in Jersey.

The Irishmen were forced onto the back foot in the closing stages as the Islanders pressed for victory, but showed character in defence to keep their noses in front at the final whistle.

Jersey were disappointed at a result that almost certainly spells the end of their chances of qualifying for the knock-out stages of the B&I, but were able to take heart from a gutsy performance, answering the questions posed by some critics after the previous weekend's home defeat to Plymouth Albion.

Jersey had a weight advantage up front and were first to assert themselves when an attacking lineout led to a rolling maul and a penalty try. Leinster's threat came from an electric back division which soon worked Cian Kelleher over for a try in the corner.

The visitors went ahead thanks to a try from scrum-half Nick McCarthy, and then crucially were able to extend their lead just before the break when Kelleher grabbed his second.

The Leinster bonus point came early in the second half when Cathal Marsh darted through the opposing midfield to dot down under the posts, and a 15-point margin looked like being a winning one.

To their credit Jersey rolled up their sleeves and battled back. Mark McCrea's powerful run into the Leinster 22 paved the way to a series of forward drives, finished by Nacho Lancuba, and then with seven minutes to go skipper Alex Rae crossed. Two well-struck conversions by Lewis Robling meant it was a one-point game as the final stages began.

The Islanders were looking for a winning score and were able to win the ball and press forward, but the Irish province's defence held firm to secure the win.

Head Coach Harvey Biljon said: "We were very close to a major victory, but nevertheless it was a display of character - the boys were determined to put in a performance today, and they did that.

"There was some emotion there at the start, but emotion can only fuel you for 20 minutes or so, and I was pleased that after that the boys carried on applying themselves and were making good decisions and getting us into a position where we could have won the game."

Jersey: Jones-Davies, Pointer, Locke, Robling, McCrea, Penberthy (Foster 54), Glynn (Dudley 54); Lancuba, Garcia-Veiga, Selway (Herriott 17), Campbell, Rae (c), Haining (Noone 9), Hodson, Kaho (Markham 41). Replacements (not used): Harris, Burroughs.

Leinster 'A': Kelleher, Coghlan-Murray (Dardis 79), O'Loughlin, Daly, Byrne, Marsh, N McCarthy (McGrath 75); Dooley, Tracy (S McCarthy 75), Heffernan, Molony (c), Thornbury (Beirne 60), Marshall, Van Der Flier, Coghlan (Timmins 71). Replacements (not used): Loughman, Crosbie.

Referee: Simon Rees (WRU)

Attendance: 1,695
Man-of-the-match (presented by match sponsor Columbia Estates): Mark McCrea (Jersey)
Half-time: 7-15

Tries: Penalty Try 5, Lancuba 59, Rae 73
Conversions: Penberthy 5, Robling 59, 73

Leinster 'A'
Tries: Kelleher 7, 36, N McCarthy 26, Marsh 52
Conversion: Marsh 52

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