Jersey staged a late, late show at St Peter against London Scottish, seizing the win and four valuable league points courtesy of a penalty try with just three minutes to play.
The winning try came as visitors London Scottish ran out of ways to legally defend against Jersey's powerful rolling maul, and Aaron Penberthy had the simplest of conversions to seal the result.
Jersey Head Coach Harvey Biljon paid tribute to the effort of his squad in bouncing back from the disappointment of their one-point defeat to Yorkshire Carnegie in last weekend's British & Irish Cup semi-final.
"We've had a five-day turn-around from the trip to Leeds and the last two weeks have taken a lot out of us," he said. "I think we were showing the effects of that at times, but I'm over the moon at the way we stuck to task and were ultimately able to execute the winning score."
The home side struck early when the ball was fed wide via skipper Alex Rae, and Penberthy was able to feed Oli Evans for a try timed at just 44 seconds after kick-off. But Scottish hit back when a Robbie Fergusson break set up a try for Jason Harries, and within three minutes the roles were reversed - after Penberthy was caught in possession, Harries picked up and fed Fergusson for the score. Two conversions and a penalty for Peter Lydon put the Exiles 7-17 in front and another dangerous position came to nothing as a mix-up between the officials led to play being called back for a knock-on when the Scots hoped for an advantage.
After this reprieve, Jersey got back into the game when Jersey number 8 Nick Haining stripped the ball from opposite number Mark Bright after a scrum and quickly popped the ball to Rich Lane, who raced 40 metres to score. Penberthy failed to convert, but added a penalty with the last kick of the half to leave Jersey just two points adrift.
An early scrum penalty after the break was followed by an outbreak of handbags and another three points for Lydon from the tee. The Exiles' kicker, playing at fly-half instead of his usual full-back, could have stretched the lead to eight points, but subsequently missed with two attempts, a penalty and a drop-goal.
Jersey had their chances, not least when Ross Adair burst through from an interception but was hauled down after a 50-metre run and couldn't get the game away to the supporting Brendan Cope.
As the clock ticked down, a substantial bank holiday crowd sensed that the home side were entering the last-chance saloon, but chances continued to come, and a kick by Aaron Morris from just outside his 22 went straight out and gave Jersey an attacking lineout. Twice the Reds' rolling maul was repelled, but a final opportunity from a scrum penalty was again kicked to touch. The lineout work of the Jersey jumpers and hookers Joe Buckle and Martin Garcia-Veiga had been excellent all day, and the catch by Nick Campbell set up a drive which looked set to bring a try for Uili Kolo'ofa'i until the maul was brought down, and the referee signalled the penalty try.
JERSEY: Penberthy; Adair (McCrea 78), Evans, Robling, Lane; Cope, Dudley (Moates 61); Lancuba (McCarthy 50), Buckle (Garcia-Veiga 45), Herriott (Kerrod 45), Campbell, Phillips (Kolo'ofa'i 61), Rae (c), Freeman, Haining (Graham 64).
LONDON SCOTTISH: Morris; Harries, Fergusson, Grove (Millar 24), Smith; Lydon, Heeks (Horne 45); Cosgrove (Hallam 52), Cherry (Moran 59), Shields (Maidment 52), Bartle (Treadwell 70), Thomas Brown, Olmstead, Brown, Bright (c). Unused replacement: Packman
REFEREE: Darren Gamage (RFU)
Man-of-the-match chosen by match sponsor HSBC: Nick Campbell (Jersey)
Half Time: 15-17
Tries: Evans 1, Lane 35, Penalty try 77
Conversions: Penberthy 1, 77
Penalty: Penberthy 39
Tries: Harries 12, Fergusson 15
Conversions: Lydon 12, 15
Penalties: Lydon 30, 44
18 May 2023
DoR pays tribute to leaving players after title-winning season