Jersey Reds gained a second successive five-point haul thanks to a convincing win at Castle Park.
The visitors scored seven tries and broke the mould of close league matches between the sides – this was the first time in 11 Championship meetings that the losing side had been more than seven points adrift and out of bonus point range.
Fijian international Leeroy Atalifo got the ball rolling in the second minute with a powerful surge to the line from close range for his first try for the club, but the home side were soon level thanks to a stunning try from Cameron Cowell. The full-back received the ball just inside the Reds’ half and at various points an estimated six Jersey players looked like they may tackle him, but in the end he showed great speed and footwork to evade them all.
Jersey’s backs and forwards combined well for another try on 13 minutes. Charlie Maddison linked with Aaron Penberthy, Mark Best and Jerry Sexton before the latter found his second row partner Charlie Beckett on the wing. Beckett rode one tackler’s attempt to force him into touch, delayed fractionally and then flicked a back-handed pass to Best, who handed off last man Cowell and dived over for a one-handed touch-down just inside the corner flag.
Although the Knights reduced the arrears through Kurt Morath’s penalty, a third try just before the break helped the Reds restore some breathing space. Aaron Penberthy was held but managed to offload to James Newey who found a surprising amount of space close to the try-line to finish from 10 yards out.
The Reds moved almost out of sight with two more tries soon after the break – Charlie Maddison from a rolling maul, and then Koch Marx on the end of an excellent handling move involving Will Homer, Atalifo, Penberthy, Best and Maddison – who found the wing with a deft scoring pass.
Maintaining the momentum was a challenge for the Reds and the home side were able to recover slightly through Josh Tyrell’s try after good link play between the number 8 and centre Junior Matavesi.
Although not firing on all cylinders at this stage, the Reds’ defence remained tight in spite of some probing attacks by the home side. Eventually this led to a yellow card for Mark Best for attempting to slow down play and then a try for Dougie Flockhart.
At this stage the home side knew that one more try could yield two bonus points, but a Tom James effort was ruled out for a forward pass and then the Reds twisted the knife with two tries in the final four minutes of a half that lasted 50 minutes in elapsed time. A 50-metre burst downfield by Marx set up the platform for replacement Brett Herron and Leroy Van Dam to put Auguy Slowik across in the corner – his fourth league try of the season – and then Nick Selway seized an overthrown lineout and charged forward, with the ball worked quickly to Janco Venter who went over in the corner. Herron added the second of two touchline conversions, to add to four earlier conversions by Penberthy from his five attempts, and the final whistle blew.
After the weekend’s other result the Reds had gone up to sixth in the Championship table ahead of this weekend’s visit from top-of-the-table Cornish Pirates. Saturday’s match at Stade Santander International will kick off at 3pm.
For match highlights on Jersey Reds TV – see THIS LINK
Pic courtesy John Ashton/@ickledot
Cowell; Flockhart, Clark, Matavesi, Lewis (Seniloli 58); Morath (Foley 52), James; Hislop (Williams 46), Hunter (Nelson 62), Quigley (Sproston 52-78), Challinor, Hicks, Calladine, Hills (capt) (Civetta 64), Tyrell. Not used: Malcolm
Slowik; Marx, Newey, Best (Herron 58-67, YC 70), Van Dam; Penberthy (Herron 67) Homer (Waters 63); Godfrey (capt) (Morley 38), Maddison (Selway 63), Atalifo (Rodman 63), Sexton, Beckett (Bartle 60), Argyle, Joyce (Venter 76), Venter (Upfield 66).
Referee: John Meredith. Assistants: Simon Park, Steve Lee
Tries: Cowell 8, Tyrell 55, Flockhart 72
Conversions: Morath 8, Flockhart 72
Penalty: Morath 24
Tries: Atalifo 2, Best 13, Newey 38, Maddison 44, Marx 50, Slowik 76, Venter 80
Conversions: Penberthy 2, 38, 44, 50, Herron 76, 80