Jersey 52 Connacht Eagles 1219/12/2015
Jersey scored eight tries to overpower Connacht Eagles for a second B&I Cup win in consecutive weekends over the Irish side.
A bonus-point win saw Jersey up to second in pool 5 of this season's B&I Cup after Doncaster won 17-49 against the Dragons Select. The Knights now have 16 points to Jersey's 13 and the Welsh side's 10, with two rounds to go. The Eagles have had a difficult campaign and are yet to register a match point after four defeats.
The visiting Eagles went ahead early in the match with Cillian Gallagher taking a scoring pass from Api Pewhairangi. The Islanders were shocked into action and when a rolling maul was dragged down, the scores were levelled through a penalty try and Connacht flanker Rory Moloney was sin-binned.
The pace of Tom Howe and fine support play from his colleagues earned the Jersey winger a hat-trick of tries within 10 minutes. Oli Evans set up the first, skipper Alex Rae provided the scoring pass on the next occasion with a delightful back-handed flick, and then Sami Fisilau and Tommy Spinks were the set-up man for the hat-trick score. Brendan Cope added a try of his own, dancing through as the referee played advantage for a maul offence, and the fly-half struck three conversions to open up a substantial half-time lead.
Connacht struck first after the break when prop Conor Kenny finished off a flowing team move up the right flank, taking a pass from his front row colleague Pat O'Toole, and Jersey were frustrated by some determined defence throughout the third quarter in spite of a mounting penalty count. There was also a lengthy injury break for Eagles winger Ed O'Keefe, who was stretchered off the field but happily recovered without needing hospital treatment.
Eventually the home side broke through, with Howe and Jack Moates setting up replacement Lewis Robling for the sixth try. The Jersey forwards had the final say, with rolling mauls leading to tries from the back row duo of Gary Graham and James Freeman.
"Connacht kept going and showed a lot of character," said Jersey's Head Coach Harvey Biljon. "From our point-of-view we were very committed and deserved to get 50-plus points. We'll have a few areas to work on, but overall can be pretty pleased with that display - it was entertaining stuff and I hope we entertained the supporters - that was our present to them and we hope they have a great Christmas.
"The boys will be training Monday to Wednesday this week before breaking up for Christmas, but they know they need to make a few sacrifices while everyone else is over-indulging, because we're meeting again early on the 26th before heading to Cornwall.
Following the away trip to Cornwall Jersey's next home match will be the Greene King IPA Championship match against Doncaster Knights on Saturday January 2nd (k-o 2.30pm).
JERSEY: Lane; Howe, Evans, Cooke, Adair; Cope (Robling 45), Fisilau (Moates 45); Lancuba (Lockwood 52), Selway (Garcia-Veiga 45), Tomaszczyk (Herriott 52), Rowlands, Kolo'ofa'i (Markham h-t), Rae (c) (Graham h-t), Freeman, Spinks.
CONNACHT: Gaffney; Leavy, Pewhairangi, Brennan, O’Keeffe (Moynihan 50); McKeon (c) (Keegan 67), Kerins (Feehily 68); Walshe, O’Toole (Anaya-Lazaro 60), Kenny (Burke 67), Claffey, Gallagher (Romaine 60), Kelly, Moloney (YC 14), McVeigh (Cosgrove 67).
REFEREE: Jack Makepeace (RFU)
Man-of-the-match (as chosen by match sponsor SGPB Hambros): Tom Howe (Jersey)
Half Time: 31-7
Tries: Penalty Try 14, Howe 20, 23, 33, Cope 29, Robling 61, Graham 68, Freeman 77
Conversions: Cope 14, 20, 29, Cooke 61, 68, 77
Tries: Gallagher 6, Kenny 44
Conversion: McKeon 6