Jersey Reds 20 London Scottish 15

11/11/2017

The Reds clung on for a precious win and four league points after a tense encounter under the Friday Night Lights.

The game began with both sides and the 1,400 crowd observing a remembrance silence on the eve of Armistice Day, with the Last Post played by a bugler and the home side wearing special shirts featuring a poppy design.

Once the game kicked off, a burst upfield by Exiles' Matt Williams almost led to a try within the opening minute; the wing was brought down just short but when Jersey's Mark Best killed the ball he was despatched to the sin bin.

The Reds survived their spell with 14 men and in fact took the lead from a Brendan Cope penalty, but soon after Best's return the visitors registered a brace of tries. First Williams was put in by fellow wing Craig Holland, and then Chris Walker touched down in the airport corner after a rolling maul.

Cope's second penalty had kept his side in touch, but the fly-half then missed another shot at goal late in the half. Scottish went to the break with a six-point lead, but without prop Phil Cringle who was yellow-carded in the 38th minute for a no-arms tackle.

The game tilted in the hosts' favour soon after the break. First Kieran Hardy burrowed over from close range, and then the Exiles received two more yellow cards in quick succession: Charlie Ingall for a high tackle on Josh Hodson, who had raced forward after a Conor Joyce intercept that was taken on by Scott van Breda; and Gregor Gillanders for collapsing a maul, a decision that also earned the Reds a penalty try.

The Reds might have hoped to move out of sight after gaining an eight-point lead and with the opposition two men short, but Jake Sharp narrowed the gap with a penalty and the visitors managed to survive until they were back to full strength. This set up a gripping last quarter of an hour, in which the visitors had more of the play and looked likely to work a try from their rolling maul, a passage of play that saw the game's fifth yellow card, with Jersey's Roy Godfrey sent to the bin for bringing down a maul.

A Scottish knock-on in front of their opponents' posts gave the home side a chance to clear, and in the dying moments Hardy burst forward and kicked ahead towards the Scottish line. An offence at the resulting breakdown gave Cope a shot at goal which would have denied the Exiles a losing bonus point, but the straightforward opportunity was hooked wide.

Jersey Head Coach Harvey Biljon said: "I've got mixed emotions - it was certainly tense, but the team showed a lot of character to come from behind and grind out a win, and playing in a pressure situation like that is definitely something that our new group of players will learn a lot from.

"Our defence and work at the breakdown were the key areas, but I'd also have to give Scottish a lot of credit - if they had come away with nothing they would have been hard done by.

"We've spoken about the really big November that we are facing, and to start it with a win - that's a big result."

Biljon's counterpart Dave Morris said the game was one of many occasions this season when his side had come up just short.

"We started well and our backs found some space several times, but then Jersey started to get a grip through their set piece, and they managed to play in the areas where they could get a competitive advantage.

"In the second half we were conceding a lot of penalties and that meant we never got the platform we needed, although there were a few close calls. As frustrated as I am, I was proud of the effort of the players and could not question their endeavour.

Morris added the visiting club's thanks regarding pre-match remembrance activity. "Well done to Jersey for what they did - it's really important and we'd like to thank the home club and the supporters."

The win was the Reds' third of the season in eight Championship outings; next weekend will see a trip to Rotherham Titans.


JERSEY REDS: Slowik; Pincus, Van Breda (c) (Bryant 74), Best (YC 1), Hodson; Cope, Hardy (Dudley 79); Woolmore (Godfrey 57 YC 67), Selway (Saunders 57), Armstrong (Atalifo 51), Voss, Sexton, Rogerson, Joyce, Pitman (Bartle 41, Kolo'ofa'i 69).  

LONDON SCOTTISH: Ingall YC 53; Williams, Neal (Lyle 42), Mosses, Holland; Sharp, Walker C; Harris (Appiah 55), Miller, Cringle YC 38 (Waldren 49), Mills (c) (Gillanders 37 YC 54), Uanivi, Walker A, Atkinson, Eliet (Milne 26). Not used: George, Hoadley.


REFEREE: John Meredith. Assistants: Darryl Chapman, Simon Park
ATTENDANCE: 1,408
Half Time: 6-12
Man-of-the-match (as chosen by match sponsor UBS): James Voss (Jersey)


Scorers

Jersey Reds
Tries: Hardy 46, Penalty 54
Conversion: Cope 46
Penalties: Cope 6, 15

London Scottish
Tries: Williams 13, Walker C 18
Conversion: Sharp 13
Penalty: Sharp 56

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