Jersey Reds claimed four tries and maximum points to extend their winning start to the 2022/23 league season.
Travelling to Hartpury in Gloucestershire, where they have never lost, the Reds ran out on a mild day with only a light breeze, having made just two changes to the starting XV from the previous match against Doncaster Knights.
After a scrappy opening, the Reds had the first real chance after 10 minutes, but an attacking lineout within 10 metres of the hosts’ line was over-thrown.
Although Hartpury had the chance to clear, from the next possession Jordan Holgate burst through and found centre partner Alex McHenry. The Irishman was brought down just short, but the ball was quickly recycled to Ben Woollett who finished from 15 metres out for the opening try, although Russell Bennett couldn’t add the extras.
The Reds suffered a blow on the 19th minute when skipper Lewis Wynne was shown a yellow card for some form of transgression after an incident involving his counterpart JB Bruzulier.
In spite of being a man down for 10 minutes, the Reds’ maintained their five-point lead during the captain’s absence, and then added a second try immediately after he returned when a rolling maul rumbled over and TJ Harris claimed the score, with Bennett adding the conversion.
There were chances for the Reds to add to their tally in the closing stages, with several penalties conceded by the hosts and eventually a yellow card for flanker Jack Bartlett. But another maul chance went begging as the referee identified obstruction, and then in the final play the ball was lost among the three-quarters.
Starting the second half with 14 men, Hartpury made a powerful start with centre Jimmy Williams making a great break and forcing the Reds onto the defensive. The ball was recycled and number 8 Mitch Eadie powered to the line and stretched over for his side’s first try. Williams was unsuccessful with the conversion as the ball bounced back off the post.
The hosts were still a man short when they scored their second try after 48 minutes, with Williams again involved as he released Bruzulier for a break and then regained the ball to fire a grubber across the field, with winger Brad Denty claiming it and touching down. Williams was again unsuccessful from the tee.
Stunned by the hosts’ quickfire brace, the Reds responded with a double of their own as first Alex McHenry and then Tomi Lewis went over, with Bennett adding one conversion as his first effort went over via the upright, and made the score 10-24 just before the hour.
Hartpury refused to lie down and with about 15 minutes to play replacement forward Sam Lewis claimed another try and the extras from Williams made the deficit just seven points.
Once again the Reds raised their game and pressure on their opponents resulted in further penalties, one of which saw Williams yellow-carded, and then another which was slotted between the uprights to stretch the lead to 10.
Both sides had chances to score again in the dying stages, with Hartpury potentially able to grab a brace of consolation bonus points, but Bennett’s penalty ended up being the final act of scoring.
The result left the Reds 'seven-from-seven' at the conclusion of the first block of league fixtures, with their next Championship act being to host Richmond on Saturday December 3rd. Before that there will be a trio of Championship Cup matches, with visits to Nottingham and Ealing either side of a home game with Hartpury on Saturday November 12th (k-o 2pm).
Pic by Steph Argyle
HARTPURY: Tommy Mathews; Brad Denty, Joe Jenkins, Jimmy Williams (YC 71), Will Butler; George Barton, J B Bruzulier (capt); Martin Mulhall, Ethan Hunt, Mike Summerfield, Jack Davies, Dale Lemon, Jack Bartlett (YC 39), Jake Polledri, Mitch Eadie.
Replacements: Will Goffey, Tom Sims, Sam Rodman, Sam Lewis, Harry Short, Joe Howard, Matthew Jones, Matthew McNab.
JERSEY REDS: Scott Van Breda; Ben Woollett (Ryan Hutler 60), Alex McHenry, Jordan Holgate (Dan Barnes 67), Tomi Lewis; Russell Bennett, James Elliott (James Mitchell 55); Sam Grahamslaw (Greg McGrath 66), Antonio ‘TJ’ Harris (Eoghan Clarke 60), Steve Longwell (Adam Nicol 45), Sean O’Connor (James Scott 70), Macauley Cook, James Dun, Lewis Wynne (capt) (YC 18), Alun Lawrence (Max Argyle 45).
REFEREE: Simon Harding. Assistants: Ian Bibey, Jonathan Healy
Half Time: 0-12
Tries: Eadie 42, Denty 48, Lewis 66
Conversion: Williams 66
Tries: Woollett 14, Harris 30, McHenry 52, Lewis 56
Conversions: Bennett 30, 52
Penalty: Bennett 72
23 Mar 2023
January lessons show danger of banana skin in SW London