Jersey's final away game of 2015/16 saw the Reds slip out of contention for the end-of-season play-offs following a narrow defeat against Ealing Trailfinders by 30-24.
The Londoners' victory, their fifth of the season, was enough to ensure safety from relegation, meaning that the two sides will renew their rivalry in the 2016/17 Greene King IPA Championship.
A poor first half display, featuring malfunctioning set pieces and a penalty count of 9-1 in the home side's favour, was at the heart of the defeat. Ealing scored three converted tries, two of them while Pierce Phillips was in the sin-bin, although Jersey got back into the game with a Nick Campbell try just before half-time (21-5) after a fine run from James Freeman. Both sides had suffered early injury blows, with Jersey’s Nick Haining departing with a hand injury and former Reds’ fly-half Jonny Bentley also forced off.
Although the hosts claimed an early penalty after the resumption, Jersey dominated thereafter with the forwards redeeming themselves with a powerful display. As the penalty count swung back in their favour, (it was 10-4 in the second period), the Islanders took advantage. Well-worked lineouts and mauls brought a brace of yellow cards and two tries for Uili Kolo’ofa’i, a half-time replacement after Graham, suffered a shoulder injury.
Ealing didn't need to chase a bonus point, and again took three points when they were presented with a chance, Love's longer-range ability doing the job after 49 minutes.
In the aftermath of another attacking lineout, a series of drives ended with Pierce Phillips going over for Jersey, and soon afterwards there was another chance, with Will Davis the latest home player to be yellow-carded. But in the following phases a lineout was lost, and as the home side cleared Love was given another shot at goal, which he landed.
Jersey still had an outside chance of grabbing a ffth try and converting it to win, but could not get the ball back from a resolute Ealing side who held on and celebrated loudly at the final whistle.
Jersey's final home game is against Yorkshire Carnegie this Saturday (k-o 3pm) when the Reds seek to avenge league and cup defeats at Headingley earlier this season.
Ealing Trailfinders (1-15)
Will Davis (YC 68), Alun Walker, Alex Penny, Paul Spivey, Adam Preocanin (YC 49), Iain Grieve, Arthur Ellis (YC 45), Chris York (capt); Alex Walker, Jonny Bentley; James Love, Tom Wheatcroft, Toby Howley-Berridge, Rhys Crane; Luke Daniels.
Used replacements: Ben Ward (for Bentley, 22 mins), Llewelyn Jones (Grieve h-t), Jamie Kilbane (Ellis 63), Rhys Lawrence (Alun Walker 63), Sam Rodman (Penny 67). Unused replacements: Alex Bradley, Tom Trotter.
Sean McCarthy, Joe Buckle, Simon Kerrod, Nick Campbell, Pierce Phillips (YC 27), Alex Rae (capt), James Freeman, Nick Haining; Joel Dudley, Brendan Cope; Rich Lane, Lewis Robling, Oli Evans, Tom Howe; Ross Adair.
Replacements (all used): Gary Graham (for Haining 8 mins), Jake Woolmore (McCarthy 32), Uili Kolo’ofa’I (Graham h-t), Sami Fisilau (Dudley 67), Nick Selway (Buckle 67), Danny Herriott (Kerrod 77), Aaron Penberthy (Adair 77).
Referee: Ian Tempest
Tries: Love 17, Alun Walker 28, Grieve 33
Conversions: Bentley 18, Ward 28, 34
Penalties: Ward 41, Love 49, 76
Tries: Campbell 37, Kolo’ofa’i 47, 52, Phillips 62
Conversions: Cope 53, 63
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