Jersey ground out a tough victory in difficult conditions to
extend their unbeaten run to four games and edge above visitors
Bedford in the Championship table.
Head Coach Harvey Biljon paid tribute to the hard work of his
squad as they held out for an eventually comfortable victory on a
pitch left heavy by significant rainfall.
"The boys were very aware that we'd missed out on some results and
lost some half-time leads, and so rather than take time off at the
end of January they carried on working, and the results have come,"
"It was a difficult game for us - we'd trained all week for dry
weather and a firm pitch and then it started raining on Friday
morning and we had a week's rain in just over 24 hours, but we
adapted well and I thought we were good value for the win.
"It wasn't easy and there were several things we had to address at
half-time - we knew it was important to score points when we got
into the right areas and managed to do that. It was a full squad
effort and everyone made an impact."
Jersey tried to use their driving maul as a scoring weapon in the
first half, but were frustrated by the Blues' solid defence and
some handling errors. It was the visitors who eventually took the
lead thanks to good work in a scrum that was in the ascendancy in
the first period. A penalty decision gave James Pritchard an easy
Jersey's lineout functioned well, with Martin Garcia-Veiga finding
his jumpers and also being prominent in the loose, where Pierce
Phillips, Sam Lockwood and Ryan Hodson also impressed.
Jersey were unable to turn spells of pressure into points until
the final moments of the half, using a penalty advantage to spin
the ball wide for Drew Locke to score.
Bedford started the second half as badly as they'd finishing the
first, dropping the re-start kick and allowing Jersey to press and
eventually score a second try from close range by Pierce
Lewis Robling showed some good touches in his first start for
Jersey at fly-half although two missed touch kicks from second-half
penalties deprived his team of opportunities to attack. Robling was
complemented by the powerful presence of Mark McCrea at inside
Jersey's scrum also worked their way back to parity, with good
impact from replacements Nacho Lancuba and Joe Buckle. There were
few chances for Bedford centre Mike Le Bourgeois on his return to
his native Island.
Both sides had chances for further scores, but largely cancelled
each other out; the exception was a well-struck penalty from 40
metres by Aaron Penberthy which ensured his side had the cushion
Bedford's Director of Rugby Mike Rayer was frustrated at the
defeat in conditions he described as "horrendous".
"The game was won and lost in a couple of minutes just before and
soon after half-time and it was too much for us to come back after
that," he said.
The result saw Jersey move to 32 points - already past the 29 they
achieved in their first two Championship seasons - to take sixth
place in the table and a one-point lead over Bedford ahead of
Sunday's games. Earlier in the day Worcester had become the first
team to guarantee a play-off place courtesy of 49-10 trouncing of
JERSEY: Penberthy, Foster, Locke, McCrea, Otto,
Robling (Bentley 69), Fisilau (Glynn 78); Lockwood (Lancuba 61),
Garcia-Veiga (Buckle 58), Williams (Herriott 72), Campbell,
Phillips, Rae (c) (Noone 53), Hodson, Kaho (Graham 76).
BEDFORD: Kerr, Tapley, Le Bourgeois, Staff,
Pritchard, Jones (Sharp 62), Veenendaal (White 62); Moss (Williams
64), Harris (Clare 48), Boulton (Currie 48), Howard, Wells
(Gulliver 50), Buggea (Tupai 62), Fenton-Wells (c),
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys (RFU)
Star man: Martin Garcia-Veiga (Jersey)
Half Time: 7-3
Tries: Locke 40, Phillips 44
Conversions: Penberthy 40, 44
Penalty: Penberthy 67
Penalty: Pritchard 20
23 Mar 2023
January lessons show danger of banana skin in SW London