London Welsh 14 Jersey 817/10/2015
Jersey endured a frustrating afternoon in south-west London and had to settle for a bonus point in defeat against London Welsh.
The Island side battled gamely throughout, but the Greene King IPA Championship match at Old Deer Park was dominated by defence for the most part, and two moments of sparkle by the Exiles saw them claim the win.
The match had begun promisingly for the visitors, who took the lead when Gary Graham finished off a well-executed rolling maul. Brendan Cope's conversion struck the post.
A lineout move on halfway was the starting point for the opening score for the Welsh, with ball fed quickly to former Jersey scrum-half Ryan Glynn who had spotted an opportunity on the nearside. Glynn fed Josh Drauniniu and the pacy winger did the rest, bursting forward, chipping over his opposite number Ross Adair and regathering for the try. Ex-England international Olly Barkley added the extras.
Jersey had several moments of promise over the rest of the half, both involving the forwards at the set-piece and some dangerous runs by the back three of Adair, Rich Lane and Tom Howe. At one stage the home side were warned by Craig Maxwell-Keys for persistent offence, but Jersey couldn't capitalise. Both sides were unable to string together sufficient phases of play, stymied by handling errors and suffocating defence.
After several kicks to the corner came to nothing, Cope elected to kick for the posts with the final kick of the half, but his kick from 40 metres was wide and the Exiles retained their two-point lead.
It was another chip ahead, this time from closer range, that led to the game's only other try 15 minutes into the second period. Centre Nic Reynolds spotted a gap behind Jersey's defensive line, landed his kick on the desired spot and had the right bounce to collect and score, with Barkley again converting.
In a very tight contest, dominated by defence, nine points was a substantial margin, especially when Jersey were reduced to 14 men as hooker Russell Anderson received a yellow card for alleged foul play within minutes of coming on for his Jersey debut.
Harvey Biljon used six of his seven replacements, with lock Dave McKern making some powerful drives after coming on for his Jersey debut.
The visitors continued to try and run the ball, using both forwards and backs, and eventually were able to work a penalty opportunity for Cope, which he slotted.
The three points meant that a converted try for Jersey could have sealed the contest in their favour in the closing stages. There were some promising attacks, and one kick ahead was cleared a fraction of a second before Howe could seize it and touch down, but in the end Jersey came up just short.
We return to action next Friday evening at home against Nottingham rugby - the first time that Jersey have played a Championship league game under lights - kick off is at 7.45pm.
London Welsh: Thomas Jewell 65), Drauniniu, Reynolds, Armitage, Elder, Barkley, Glynn; Trevett (Marfo 53), Britton, Cooper, West, Corker (capt), Pienaar (Skuse 72), Waters, Murphy.
Unused replacements: Morris, Gilding, Leo, Lewis
Jersey: Lane (Garcia-Veiga 71-76), Howe, Robling, Cooke (McCrea 68), Adair, Cope, Dudley (Moates 55); Lockwood (Lancuba 69), Garcia-Veiga (Anderson 64), Herriott, Markham (Freeman 63), Phillips (McKern 70), Rae (capt), Graham, Haining.
Unused replacement: Featherstone
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys (RFU)
Half time: 7-5
Tries: Drauiniu 21, Reynolds 64
Conversions: Barkley 21, 64
Try: Graham 12
Penalty: Cope 76