'Friday night lights' unfortunately didn't turn out to be the party that many people were hoping for and expecting.
Both sides have had a mixed start to their campaigns, and with only a couple of bonus points to separate the two before the game it was always likely to be a tight affair, and so it proved to be.
Nottingham were first on to the scoresheet with an unconverted try after 8 minutes through Paul Grant. This seemed to sharpen the minds of Jersey who then came back to build up a decent 17-5 advantage.
Tries were scored firstly through Nick Haining from a catch and drive move at the lineout, and then a slick manoeuvre at the front of another attacking lineout midway into Nottingham territory. The ball was taken at the front and then fed quickly to Tom Howe on the blindside right wing, who stormed through from about 30 yards. Both were successfully converted by Brendan Cope who went on to record a 100% accuracy record with the boot for the night.
Even when going behind, Nottingham continued to look dangerous with the ball in hand, and it was as much as anything a question of handling errors that prevented them making more inroads in the first half hour.
As the clock ticked towards half time the visitors first converted a penalty to reduce the arrears, and then scored a well-worked try as the ball was moved quickly through the backs following a lineout on the half way line. Billy Robinson finished off the move and Dan Mugford added the conversion to make it 17-15 in Jersey's favour at the break.
Going down the slope in the second half Jersey were keen to press their advantage, and when awarded a penalty early on Cope stepped up to extend the lead.
Following that score the tide swung in Nottingham's favour as they put pressure on the homeside by capitalising on penalty opportunities to peg Jersey back into their 22.
Two tries from two lineouts followed. The first was hard on Jersey as they won a defending lineout in front of the scoreboard having already soaked up pressure, but as the ball was knocked back it was Toby Freeman who reacted quickest to fall on the ball and score. The second was a cleverly worked play on the other side of the pitch; the ball was thrown long, caught cleanly and then played down to Ben Morris in the middle of the lineout who marched through to touch down. Both tries were converted by Mugford to put Nottingham ahead by 20-29.
Jersey got a converted try back through Nick Campbell after a successful catch and drive from outside the Nottingham 22, and were then unlucky to lose Ross Adair to a yellow card on 62 minutes as he was adjudged to have taken out a player in the air. To many observers there was simply confusion as both players went for the high ball, but the outcome remained the same.
Jersey stuck at their task throughout the 10 minute spell and indeed came close to the vital fourth try, but ultimately Nottingham turned that one over on their own try line and then held on for the win.
At the end a frustrated and disappointed Harvey Biljon was short of words. "We just didn't always seem to get the rub of the green - perhaps most noticeably when they scored after we'd won their lineout throw in defence in the second half. It was always likely to be a tight game that could have gone either way, and unfortunately it was Nottingham's night."
JERSEY: Lane, Howe, Robling, McCrea (Cooke 63), Adair (YC 62), Cope, Moates (Fisilau 58); Lockwood (Lancuba 72), Garcia-Veiga, Herriott, Campbell (Markham 78), Phillips, Rae (c), Graham (Freeman 72), Haining. Not used: Anderson, Featherstone
NOTTINGHAM: Robinson, Coghlan-Murray, Woods, Stevens,Hammond (Andrew 72), Mugford, Veenendaal; Davies, Vickers (Harris 74), Carey (Heard 66), Freeman, Montagu, Morris (Cooper 74), Langley, Grant. Not used: Eames, McConnell, Rayner
Referee: Ian Tempest (RFU)
Man-of-the-match (as chosen by match sponsor Cazenove): Ben Morris (Nottingham Rugby)
Half Time: 17-15
Tries: Haining 11, Howe 22, Campbell 60
Conversions: Cope 13, 23, 60
Penalties: Cope 18, 41
Tries: Grant 8, Robinson 36, Freeman 50, Morris 54
Conversions: Mugford 37, 51
Penalty: Mugford 29
07 Dec 2022
Biljon's side seek eighth straight league win this season