Ealing Trailfinders 16 Jersey 24
SSE National League One
Jersey stunned the league leaders with an impressive win, the 12th in succession, at Vallis Way. Though not at their best, and suffering significantly through injuries, the Islanders held on to win by eight points.
Rosslyn Park went top of the table, thrashing Cambridge 43-17 having at one stage trailed 10-17, which sets up another 1st v 2nd encounter when Park visit Jersey next week. It would be churlish to dwell on Jersey's missed bonus point, given that there was a victory to nail down, and denying rivals a losing bonus point may yet prove significant.
Ealing were without record-breaking try-scorer Phil Chesters, who missed the game with a broken hand. Charlie Clyde-Smith was the Jersey player to miss out from the 21-man squad who travelled.
Mike Le Bourgeois started the game at full-back for the visitors, with Ross Broadfoot at fly-half, but 'Mikey' played only a couple of minutes before a hamstring injury saw him limp off and replaced by Ed Dawson. And before long centre Dai Bishop was side-lined. Steve O'Brien, formerly a wing, came off the bench but in fact he slotted into the back row and Guy Thompson went into the backs for the second time this season.
An early Broadfoot penalty was cancelled out by two kicks from Ben Ward, but then the Jersey pack were able to assert themselves at the scrum, with a series of penalties leading to a penalty try, converted by Broadfoot (6-10).
It looked as if Jersey would take their lead into the break, but poor tackling allowed the dangerous Rory Damant to cross which meant the home team were 13-10 ahead as the teams took a breather.
Dave McCormack scored within seconds of the restart to restore Jersey's lead, but this was to be his last contribution with Nicky Griffiths coming on. Soon afterwards Jersey attacked and James Copsey fed Thompson for a 30-metre run to the line, with Broadfoot again adding the extras (13-24).
Nick Trower replaced Kingsley Lang in Jersey's back row, but it was the hosts who scored next through a Ben Ward penalty on the hour. In fact this turned out to be the final score of the afternoon, in spite of an eventful final quarter that saw Jersey's Ben Evans sin-binned, and some heroic defence including great tackles from, among others, Myles Landick, Thompson and Chris Levesley.
Leaders of National One at 2pm, Ealing had slipped to fourth by 5pm with 64 points, trailing Park (68), Jersey (67) and Fylde, who beat Stourbridge 31-21 (including five tries) and moved onto 65 points.
Macclesfield 16 Blaydon 10 (Macc fifth with 57 points)
Tynedale 26 Barking 17
Coventry 13 Sedgley Park 24
Blackheath 18 Cinderford 20 (upset of the day)
Bees 36 Wharfedale 17
Just a reminder, as if you needed it: Jersey v Rosslyn Park next weekend at St Peter, KO at St Peter is 3pm on Saturday.
Jersey supporter Graham Holland was one of those who travelled over for the game, and here he adds his own account of the top-of-the-table (with a twist) clash...
Ealing away: Onwards but strangely not upwards.
The first Saturday of 2012 saw us in Ealing for the long-awaited return game against the league leaders. By five o'clock second had beaten first, but third were top. Funny old game!
Arriving at the Trailfinders' ground we were greeted by the sight of hordes of travelling faithful. The pre-match chat concerned the missing prodigious try scorer Phil Chesters, this news buoyed the Jersey followers, but I like to watch the best players and see how the team copes with them.
The teams ran out to rapturous applause from two sets of supporters who had missed their weekly rugby 'fix', but within seconds things went wrong as Mikey (Le Bourgeois) was carried off injured, to my untrained eye it looked bad. Now both sides were missing their top scorer. Jersey had started with Ross Broadfoot at stand off so the kicking duties were covered, Ed Dawson came on and James Copsey dropped back to full back where he had a storming game, always alert to Ealing's favoured tactic of kicking for the corner, he claimed every ball and set up a number of counter attacks. Class act is Copsey.
The first Ealing foray into our half was stopped by a good tackle from Dai Bishop, but at a cost, he too had to leave the field to be replaced by Steve O'Brien with Thommo moving into the back line.
Both sides scored a kickable pen before Ealing took a 6-3 lead with a good kick from distance after Jersey were penalised for not releasing. Jersey then started to pressurise the Ealing back line and a knock on lead to a Jersey scrum near the Ealing line. The ref reset the scrum 3 times before the home side conceded 2 pens and a penalty try to a forward pushing Jersey pack. 6-10.
Ealing were showing some good handling skills in midfield with stand off Ben Ward influential and centre Rory Demant always a threat. The two combined well and Demant found a gap in the Jersey defence to score a good converted try to give Ealing a halftime lead 13-10.
Jersey hadn't really got going in the first half but that changed straight from the restart. An adventurous pass by Ward was intercepted by Macca and after a bit of one handed ball juggling he galloped 40 metres into the corner before touching down between the posts to give Ross an easy conversion. The reward for Macca was the rest of the afternoon off, instantly replaced by Nick Griffiths. Nice one Macca. Job done. 13-17.
Ealing tried to up their game, with Ward kicking for the corner and the speedy wingers chasing, but Copsey was equal to everything. Demant was a live wire but Donnie and Thommo stood firm. He had found a gap once, it wasn't going to happen again.
Barrel came on and kept the home side on the back foot with a couple of surging runs and then good quick ball handling from Donnie fed Copsey who made ground before passing outside to Daws who drew the full back before unselfishly providing Thommo with the touch down. A great try involving most of the backs and putting paid to the notion that Jersey are purely a forward based team. Ross took the extras. 13-24.
Jersey now went for the bonus point and spent some time on the Ealing try line, but spirited defence denied forward surges from Jim Brownrigg, Big Nathan and Barrel. A pen against Jersey relieved pressure that few other sides would have withstood.
Another Ward pen reduced the deficient to 16-24 but Ealing still needed two scores when referee Darren Gammage gave his view on the dark arts of the front row in producing a yellow card for Ben Evans. Eleven minutes remained and 14-man Jersey abandoned their quest for the bonus point. Ball retention was now the name of the game. With chants of Jerrr-zee Jerrr-zee ringing out, the Jersey forwards, lead by the fresh legs of Dai Maddocks and orchestrated at the base of the ruck by Nick Griffiths, kept possession of the ball and ran down the clock in a disciplined and professional manner.
My man of the match [the JEP chose Guy Thompson] - would probably be James Copsey, but if I was dishing out champers they would all get a
Why not get yourself a Hot Pot (Curry or Chilli served with rice) in the supporters marquee £8 per pot.