Reds’ hopes of catching up with second-placed Cornish Pirates in the Championship table were dashed during a disappointing second half at Stade Santander International.
The home side led by 10-0 for much of the first half, but could not add to their tally while the Pirates got stronger as the game went on and finished the match with a last-play try that deprived their opponents of a losing bonus point.
The home side took an early lead when Rodney Iona made ground through midfield and when the ball reached Janco Venter the Namibian number 8 burst through to the line, grounding the ball in spite of being tackled just short. Brendan Cope added the conversion and a penalty from a Pirates’ scrum offence.
Defensive duty was the main requirement for the Reds in the second quarter, and after a number of near misses, including Tom Cowan-Dickie being held up over the try-line, Will Cargill opened his side’s account with a late penalty as a Red tackler failed to roll away.
Cargill took an early chance to double his side’s total after the resumption after a high tackle by Josh Bainbridge which saw the Jersey skipper head to the sin-bin.
The Reds survived the yellow card without further damage, but soon after Bainbridge’s return replacement hooker Tom Channon powered over from close range to give his side the lead for the first time.
Sharper at the breakdown and forcing several errors from their opponents, the Pirates strengthened their grip thanks to another penalty from Cargill. The Reds had some isolated moments in attack through charges from the likes of Alex Morgan and Roy Godfrey.
A late recovery from the home side was still a possibility as the clock ticked down, but a maul close to the Pirates line was shoved into touch, a key turnover was achieved on the opposite flank and then Pirates captain Brett Beukeboom crowned a fine performance in his 100th Pirates game with a lineout steal.
After seeing his side concede another try in the final play of the match, as Robin Wedlake scooted over in the corner, Jersey director of rugby Harvey Biljon said he was disappointed his time were left empty-handed.
“It was a tough game and I was proud of our defensive performance, but when we had some opportunities to score we didn’t take them,” he said.
/*pic courtesy of Rich Chapman*/
JERSEY REDS: Dyer; Morgan, Spencer, Iona, Van Dam; Cope, Jones (Homer 65); Morley (Godfrey 57), Harris, Clarey (Atalifo 60), Hatherell (Beckett 79), Bartle, Argyle (Joyce 65), Bainbridge (c), Venter (Upfield 37). Unused replacements: Dolly, Newey
CORNISH PIRATES: Moyle; Wedlake, Parata (Rojas Alvarez 48), Patterson, Cant; Cargill, Bruzulier (Davies 60); Andrew (Walker h-t), Cowan-Dickie (Channon 46), Rodman (Mitchell h-t), Caulfield, Beukeboom (c), McRae, Stevens (Cutmore 56), Duncan (Kiri Kiri 47). Unused replacement: Evans
REFEREE: Adam Leal. Assistants: Simon Adams, Bill Burton
Try: Venter 7
Conversion: Cope 7
Penalty: Cope 16
Try: Channon 55, Wedlake 80
Conversions: Cargill 55, 80
Penalties: Cargill 37, 42, 69