Jersey Reds 40 Dragons Select 2113/01/2018
The Reds can look forward to a home quarter-final in the B&I Cup at the end of March after cruising to a comfortable win over their visitors from Wales.
It finished six tries to three at Stade Santander International, and although the home side might have ideally wanted more than a 19-point boost to their points difference, qualifying with a round to spare is no mean feat - the third consecutive season the Reds will contest the B&I knock-out stages.
Jersey's pack registered three first-half scores: an early penalty try as the visitors' scrum buckled, and then two powerful mauls finished by hooker Nick Selway. An opportunist snipe from a tapped penalty saw Charlie Davies respond for the Dragons, and the scrum-half came within inches of repeating the feat.
The visitors finished the half with 14 men, with Taine Basham banished to the sin-bin as the first offender after a team warning from Irish referee Johnny Erskine.
Neat interplay between Jersey's back three saw Scott van Breda and Tom Pincus set up Jason Worrall for the bonus point try soon after the resumption. Basham returned to the fray and was on hand to score his side's second try, but then replacement Roy Godfrey got on the end of another maul to snuff out any threat of a Welsh comeback.
Mark Best and Jerry Sexton had been among the stand-out Reds players and combined for their side's final try with five minutes to play, Best the set-up man with a jinking run that left Sexton with a straightforward finish. The visitors continued to threaten in attack and in the last play, Sam Beard broke upfield and found centre partner Connor Edwards, who just made it to the line.
Reds Assistant Coach Neil Tunnah hailed his players for racking up the victory by six tries to three and stretching their unbeaten run to six games in league and cup.
"Our forwards set up an impressive platform and it was pleasing to get 40 points on the board," he said. "If there's a down-side it's the Dragons breaking our line a bit too easily, but we're delighted to qualify and earn the home draw.
"We know we'll need to step up next week against Carnegie - it'll be a tough challenge up there. We won't have a clear idea of squad selection until we get in on Monday and look at availability, but we have a small squad so aren't in a position to make major changes."
Dragons Coach James Chapron said: "Considering this was a young squad who'd had two-and-a-half training sessions as a unit and were taking on a well-drilled side, it was a really committed display. Conceding such an early try after the break wasn't ideal, but heads could have gone down after that and I was impressed that didn't happen and the boys kept playing to the end."
The pool stages of this season's B&I will conclude on Saturday January 20th when the Reds will travel to Scarborough to take on Yorkshire Carnegie. Then it will be back to Greene King IPA Championship action, with a home game against Richmond on Saturday January 27th.
JERSEY REDS: Van Breda (c); Pincus, Best, Ma'afu, Worrall; Cope (Bryant 62), Hardy (Dudley 56); Woolmore (c) (Godfrey 47), Selway (Macfarlane 47), Armstrong (Atalifo 56), Sexton, Kolo'ofa'i (Voss 50) Argyle, Joyce, (Bartle 56), Rogerson.
DRAGONS PS: Prosser; Nightingale, Beard, Edwards, Morris; O’Brien (Jones 49), Davies C (Leonard 72); Price (Reynolds 72), Shipp (Griffiths 72), Bale (James 60), Williams, Skinner (Parker 63), Davies J (Waite 49), Basham (YC 40), Greggains (c).
REFEREE: Johnny Erskine (IRFU). Assistants: Darryl Chapman, Simon Adams
Half Time: 19-7
Man-of-the-match (as chosen by prime sponsor Santander International): Nick Selway (Jersey)
Tries: Penalty try 7, Selway 18, 32, Worrall 42, Godfrey 61, Sexton 75
Conversions: Cope 18, 42, 61, Van Breda 75
Tries: Davies C 22, Basham 55, Edwards 79
Conversions: O'Brien, 22, Jones 55, 80