Early stages… and all that, but the Reds kept up a fine start to their 2022/23 league season with a hefty home win over Coventry in their 200th Championship game.
The hosts notched three tries in each half, and could have had more, but the win by 26 points was enough for a second successive bonus-point win. The Reds and Ealing Trailfinders are the only teams with two victories from two games, although they’ll be joined by the winners of Sunday’s clash between Nottingham and the Pirates.
The match was preceded by a minute's silence to honour Queen Elizabeth II, with the UK and Channel Islands continuing a period of mourning that will continue until after the late monarch's funeral. The home side also wore their black kit as an additional mark of respect.
A series of early penalty concessions gave Coventry an attacking platform and saw Jersey hooker TJ Harris sin-binned after just six minutes as a result of his side’s persistent offending. Wing James Martin went over in the corner but a touch flag was raised and eventually the home side raised the siege, while Martin was forced from the field with an injury.
Soon after Harris returned, the Reds showed their attacking potential and fast hands across the field set up a chance for Tomi Lewis to show his pace on the flank and score the opening try.
Scrums were a significant source of pressure and as the penalty count turned in the home side’s favour Harris scored two tries in the dying stages of the half, one direct from a maul and the other after bursting from the side of a ruck. Cov prop Toby Trinder was shown yellow following scrum infringements.
Coventry attempted to get early points on the board after the resumption, surprisingly going for goal from a 40-metre penalty, but Pat Pellegrini’s kick was off-target and the next score was by the home side as Jordan Holgate raced onto a deft kick ahead by Lewis, who soon added his second as he was first to Alex McHenry’s grubber.
The visitors eventually claimed tries to reward their commitment, with skipper Jordon Poole crossing from a maul and Louis Brown slipping through a defensive hole, but the Reds forwards had the last word with Eoghan Clarke finishing a maul. The visitors finished the game with 14 men after Will Talbot-Davies was shown yellow for a deliberate knock-on, while Ben Woollett had the last of several near-misses in the final play when he looked certain to cross.
Reds DoR Harvey Biljon was delighted with his side’s performance… and the outcome.
“The effort, energy and attitude we showed early on when down to 14 men was exceptional,” he said. “We then worked our way into attack and showed a good mix of power and speed – I’m chuffed to have two bonus-point wins to kick off the season, even if we know there are lots of tough tests ahead.”
Coventry Head Coach Alex Rae admitted he had enjoyed the occasion far less than Coventry’s last visit in May, when the men from the Midlands came out on top in a Championship Cup semi-final.
“We started well, but credit to Jersey – they weathered the storm when we could have got some momentum if we’d scored.
“Jersey’s power game put us under pressure after that, although fair play to our lads – they never gave up.”
Picture: Rich Chapman
JERSEY REDS: Van Breda; Woollett, McHenry, Holgate (Powell 62), Lewis; Bennett (Pittman 75), Mitchell (Elliott 55); Grahamslaw (McGrath 65), Harris (YC 6) (Clarke 60), Longwell (Weatherby 54), O’Connor (Bain 25), Cook, Dun (Argyle 55), Wynne (c), Lawrence.
COVENTRY: Brown; Talbot-Davies (YC 72), Wand, Titherington, Martin (Cornish 9); Pellegrini (Mitchell 52), Lane (Ogden 21); Trinder (Southworth 53), Poole (c) (Biggs 69), Tyas (Bridges 49), Smith, Betteridge (Ma’asi 56), Bainbridge, Nayalo (Ball 60).
REFEREE: Jack Makepeace. Assistants: Ian Bibey, Calum Howard
Half Time: 21-0
Tries: Lewis 18, 54, Harris 32, 40, Holgate 48, Clarke 73
Conversions: Bennett 18, 32, 40, 48, 54
Tries: Poole 59, Brown 66
Conversions: Mitchell 59, 66
Why not come a chillout in the supporters marquee before the game, A fully stocked bar and food is available, seated and standing tables, on a first come first served basis and a great place to meet the Reds supporters.