Jersey produced a powerful display in front of almost 2,000 home supporters to take a bonus point win over bottom side Ealing.
The result was the first time Jersey had achieved three successive wins in the Championship; all three games have featured strong defence without a single point conceded in the second half. It was also the first win in a night match at St Peter after last season’s Cup loss to Plymouth and the narrow Championship defeat at Nottingham’s hands in October.
The hosts built an early lead thanks to two penalties by Aaron Penberthy, the second following a searing 50-metre burst from winger Ross Adair. But Ealing silenced the home crowd by executing a well-worked rolling maul to score through Adam Preocanin.
The Trailfinders’ try-scorer was sent to the sin-bin just before half-time for illegally stopping Jersey’s maul near the goal-line, with the home side gaining a penalty try.
Some inaccurate lineout work had limited Jersey’s effectiveness in the first half, but after the break there were fewer errors, and the home pack’s scrum power was a feature throughout the game. A series of penalties conceded by Ealing provided the trigger for further catch-and-drive attacks, two of which resulted in tries for Sam Lockwood and replacement Uili Kolo’ofa’i.
The visitors showed commitment throughout and flashes of pace up the flanks from James Stephenson and replacement Phil Chesters, but Jersey remained focused on a fourth try, and played the final stages against 14 men after a yellow card for Eoghan Grace for dragging down a maul. The bonus point was eventually achieved after a relentless series of attacking phases which culminated in fly-half Brendan Cope crossing for the try.
“It’s reward for a lot of hard work put in by the whole squad – not just the match-day 22,” said Jersey Forwards Coach Steve Boden. “We’ve put the players under a lot of stress during training and that makes the game at the end of the week a bit more comfortable.”It was a great effort in defence and some of that comes from pride and commitment – things you can’t coach.”
“I thought we did a pretty good job in the first 40, apart from the try just before half-time,” said Ealing’s Player-Coach Ben Ward. “To be fair to Jersey they played well, but we are low in confidence and need to cut out the simple errors.”
JERSEY: Penberthy (McCrea 73), Howe, Otto, Robling, Adair, Cope, Fisilau (Moates 73); Lockwood (Lancuba 63), Garcia-Veiga (Selway 52), Tomaszczyk (Herriott 52), Rowlands, Phillips, Rae (capt) (Freeman 57), Graham, Haining (Kolo’ofa’i 61).
EALING TRAILFINDERS: Harries, Stephenson, Howley-Berridge, Wilson (Chesters 63), Daniels, Ward, Davies (Alex Walker 61); Kilbane (Porter 46), Alun Walker (Lawrence 50), Holford (Buck 46-69), Hannay (Grace 61 – YC 75), Preocanin (YC 37) (Ellis 79), Jones, Grieve (capt), York.
REFEREE: Ian Tempest (RFU)
Man-of-the-match as chosen by match-day sponsor Santander: Gary Graham (Jersey)
Half Time: 16-7
Tries: Penalty 37, Lockwood 45, Kolo’ofa’i 63, Cope 78
Conversions: Penberthy 37, 63, Cope 78
Penalties: Penberthy 2, 10, 33
Try: Preocanin 29
Conversion: Davies 29