Jersey Reds rounded off 2017 with a hard-earned victory at the Mennaye Field.
The 15-19 win over the Cornish Pirates was the fifth successive by the Island side in this 'local derby' fixture, and as on many previous fixtures in Penzance was played on a heavy surface after significant rainfall in the build-up.
The visitors used the conditions to their advantage in the first half, with a pair of tries resulting from powerful mauls: the first was scored by Max Argyle after the flanker broke off from the maul and dived over; the second by Nick Selway just before the break. Will Cargill had scored the hosts' points with an early penalty, followed by an opportunist try after 36 minutes, which he also converted.
Having played into the wind during the opening 40 minutes, the Reds hoped to have the conditions in their favour after the break, although in the end the wind shifted and there was little benefit. The second period featured two more tries - Selway again for the Reds from a well-worked maul, with an excellent conversion by skipper Van Breda, and then Kyle Moyle to give the Pirates hope just before the hour mark. The home side's score came soon after Jerry Sexton had been sin-binned for a technical offence, and just as Sexton returned the visitors lost a second player to the naughty step, with Tom Pincus banished to the naughty step for a deliberate knock-on.
With barely five minutes to go, the Pirates still had hopes of a win in front of one of their highest crowds of the season (just 10 more spectators were recorded when Bristol visited in September). An attack down the right saw winger Dan Koster beat several tackles before releasing centre Nick De Battista. The Argentine skipper looked certain to score but was floored by a textbook tackle from Kieran Hardy, who showed great pace and technique to haul down De Battista around five metres from the line. In their eagerness to finish the job, two supporting Pirates' players were up too quickly: one picked up the loose ball, but in feeding it to number 8 Tom Lawday the ball was adjudged to have gone forward and Lawday to have been offside as he caught the ball and dived over the line.
The Reds used the penalty won from this narrow escape to clear their lines and, restored to 15 men, were able to play out the remaining minutes in relative comfort to seal the win and four precious league points.
The result helped move the Reds up from 11th to eighth in the Championship table, just two points behind the Pirates. The 13th round of league matches also saw the table's top and bottom sides move further clear - Bristol extending their lead at the top over Ealing from eight to nine points, while Rotherham Titans are now 23 points adrift at the bottom and looking destined for relegation.
The Jersey players and coaches will now enjoy a week off before regrouping ahead of the final two rounds of the group stages of this season's B&I Cup. The next home game is the Friday Night Lights clash against the Dragons Premiership Select on Friday January 12th, kicking off at 7.45pm.
Cornish Pirates: 15 Toby May, 14 Dan Koster, 13 Pete Laverick, 12 Nicolas De Battista (capt), 11 Kyle Moyle; 10 Will Cargill, 9 Alex Day; 1 Marlen Walker, 2 Dan Frost, 3 Christian Judge, 4 Josh Caulfield, 5 Toby Freeman; 6 Rupert Cooper, 7 Alex Cheesman, 8 Tom Lawday.
Replacements (all used): 16 Sam Matavesi, 17 Billy Keast, 18 Jack Andrew, 19 Chris Morgan, 20 Tom Duncan, 21 Mike Pope, 22 Laurence May.
Jersey Reds: 15 Scott Van Breda (capt); 14 Tom Pincus (YC 66), 13 Apakuki Ma’afu, 12 Mark Best, 11 Jason Worrall; 10 Oli Bryant, 9 Joel Dudley (Kieran Hardy 67); 1 Jake Woolmore (Roy Godfrey 67), 2 Nick Selway (Jack Macfarlane 72), 3 Jake Armstrong (Leeroy Atalifo 67), 4 Jerry Sexton (YC 55), 5 Uili Kolo’ofa’i (James Voss 48), 6 Max Argyle (Rory Bartle 72), 7 Conor Joyce, 8 Matt Rogerson. Unused replacement: Josh Hodson
REFEREE: Jack Makepeace. Assistants: Paul Burton, Ian Pengelley
Half Time: 10-12
Tries: Cargill 36, Moyle 56
Conversion: Cargill 36
Penalty: Cargill 9
Tries: Argyle 24, Selway 40, 49
Conversions: Van Breda 24, 49
Why not get yourself a Hot Pot (Curry or Chilli served with rice) in the supporters marquee £8 per pot.