Jersey 34 Bedford 2710/10/2015
A seven-try thriller at St Peter ended with Jersey claiming their second maximum-point victory on home soil in 36 Championship outings.
An explosive opening saw Bedford threequarters Michael Le Bourgeois and Sam Blanchet forced from the field after clashing heads as they tackled Jersey's Fautua Otto. At 21-3 it looked as if Jersey might cruise to a comfortable win, but the Blues had other ideas, and battled back to leave the sides locked together on the hour mark at 27-all.
"I have to give great credit to Bedford for continuing to play in the manner which they did after the injuries they suffered - we have been there," said Jersey's Head Coach Harvey Biljon.
"We had set out to hit the ground running and keep the momentum from our win at Moseley, so it was a really good start. Later in the game we were punished once or twice when we lost concentration - we knew Bedford would be dangerous."
Jersey's pack engineered a rolling maul try for Gary Graham after 12 minutes and soon afterwards an irresistible move from inside the Jersey half saw Nick Haining break clear, Ross Adair kick ahead and Tom Howe finish at pace under the posts. Haining then took a scoring pass from Pierce Phillips after a move sparked by Otto's run, and all the visitors had to show was a long-range penalty from Steffan Jones.
The Blues recovery was sparked by Mike Howard's try from a clever move at the back of a lineout, and the visitors added a second when replacement Jake Sharp and Jones set up Dean Adamson.
A missed touch by Bedford almost set up Jersey's fourth try as Howe raced through, but the winger was penalised for holding on, and the Blues counter-attack was devastating - a quick tap, a burst up the right from Henry Taylor and Adamson finished at pace.
With the scores level, Jersey claimed the crucial try, scored by Charlie Butterworth from a catch-and-drive. Bedford still weren't beaten - a potentially levelling try was called back for a forward pass, and when the Blues attempted to execute a lineout drive in the final minute, Dave Markham claimed a crucial lineout steal for the home side. There was a last chance for the visitors when Cope failed to find touch with the resulting clearance kick, but Jersey's defence held firm.
Howe's electric running saw him earn the man-of-the-match award from the sponsors, although other members of the Jersey squad put in solid efforts, notably the half-back pairing of Cope and Joel Dudley, and in the forwards where Gary Graham had another impressive game and props Danny Herriott and Sam Lockwood both delivered fine 80-minute efforts.
Although former Jersey player Le Bourgeois stayed at the ground in spite of a sizeable gash to his head, both his team-mate Blanchet and Jersey's Haining, the latter sustaining what appeared to be a neck injury that caused another lengthy break in play in the second half, were taken to hospital for treatment on their injuries and it is hoped both players will not be out of action for too long.
JERSEY: Lane, Howe, Otto (Moates 73), Robling, Adair (McCrea 64), Cope, Dudley; Lockwood, Garcia-Veiga (Selway 57), Herriott, Campbell (Markham 73), Phillips, Rae (c), Graham, Haining (Butterworth 57). Not used: Lancuba, Featherstone
BEDFORD: Jones, Blanchet (Burns 2), Le Bourgeois (O'Conor 2), Dodge (Sharp 33), Adamson, Dorrian, Taylor (Buggea 78); Parilli-Ocampo (Lundberg 51), Clare, Boulton (Currie 69), Howard, Flanagan (Tupai 57), Wells, Fenton-Wells (c), Thompson-Stringer.
Referee: Andrew Jackson (RFU)
Man-of-the-match (as chosen by match sponsor Rowney Sharman): Tom Howe (Jersey)
Half Time: 21-17
Tries: Graham 12, Howe 17, Haining 23, Butterworth 65
Conversions: Cope 12, 17, 23, 65
Penalties: Cope 42, 58
Tries: Howard 29, Adamson 38, 50
Conversions: Dorrian 29, 38, 50
Penalties: Jones 20, 60