Blackheath 23 Jersey 27
SSE National League One
Saturday 10th September 2011
JERSEY'S spirited and bloodyminded showing gave their travelling
fans full value at the world's oldest rugby club on Saturday, with
three tries earning a memorable victory over venerated
Although it was some way short of a dream performance, the
spirit and individual class shown at times was outstanding and
enabled Jersey to recover from a nightmarish opening five
minutes, when Blackheath's big, mobile and hungry side threatened
to blast the visitors off the park.
Twice Jersey's defences were breached in the opening minutes;
giant lock Neil Dewale thundering over on the right after less than
two minutes and soon to be followed by flanker David Allen,
Blackheath's player of the year, doing likewise on the left. The
only bright spots for Jersey were the missed conversions.
Things certainly looked bleak for a shell-shocked Jersey but
they gave themselves a timely boost when winger Glenn Bryce went on
a winding run on the left, with the young Scot eventually
off-loading to Michael Le Bourgeois who scooted over for a try.
Five welcome points on his return from suspension, with Ross
Broadfoot assuredly kicking the conversion.
A sin-binning for home winger James Stephenson and a penalty
from Broadfoot appeared to put Jersey in a decent position at
10-10, but it was often ragged stuff from the visitors and two
penalties from full back Adam Armstrong put the 14-man hosts 16-10
up and looking likely to score a third try of the half.
But even when misfiring, Jersey have quality and spirit in
abundance, and they brought the halftime deficit down to three when
Broadfoot's trusty left-peg slotted over another penalty, after he
had fallen just short with an ambitious central effort from the
Grateful to be just three adrift, there was still a great deal
of plain talking in the away dressing room, not least from coach
Jersey, wearing blue, came out with a renewed determination for the
second period and, with Blackheath again shooting themselves in the
foot with another sin-binning, they looked poised to take control,
although the yellow card offence was not punished with points as
Broadfoot's penalty curled just wide of the far post.
But Jersey, already starting to make a raft of changes,
positional and in personnel, in an attritional match, took the lead
in great style when some powerful play from the scrum was followed
by an electric break on the left by winger James Copsey, who kept
up an impressive start to the season by darting over and touching
down behind the posts to put Jersey in front for the first time. Le
Bourgeois converted, giving Jersey a 20-16 advantage.
It remained an error-strewn encounter, but it was thrilling
stuff for the fans, particularly the 50 or so strong band from the
Island - and never short of incident, such as when Jersey went down
to 14 men with the binning of Steve O'Brien on 67 minutes.
But it was fitting that the decisive moment of the match, five
minutes later, should belong to scrum-half Nicky Griffiths, who was
clearly the man of the match. Taking advantage of a tiny hole that
eventually appeared in the home defence he darted through and
eluded several challenges to slam the ball down under the
Virtually the entire Jersey team joined in rapturous
celebrations as, with the conversion soon to be slotted over by Le
Bourgeois, the match was as good as won at 27-16. Or was it?
No, it was not quite done and dusted and Jersey came under some
severe pressure, particularly when replacement Brendan O'Brien was
deemed the guilty man for halting a home attack and was despatched
to the bin for the closing minutes by referee Richard Kelly.
Jersey to a man stood up to be counted, however, and when
Blackheath eventually did make the breakthrough their pressure
demanded - and deserved - through replacement Ben Ibraim's
touchdown by the posts, there was only a minute left on the
A tense final 60 seconds, and a good few more, ensued as
Blackheath kept both possession and pressure going right to the
moment when Le Bourgeois eventually collected a wickedly-bouncing
ball to kick into touch.
A historic, hard-earned victory that will make the tough work
still required to gel this team together all the more palatable
this coming week.
Report by Ron Felton, reproduced by courtesy of the Jersey
Why not get yourself a Hot Pot (Curry or Chilli served with rice) in the supporters marquee £8 per pot.