The Reds dug deep to grind out a narrow victory after some desperate defence in the closing stages against a determined Bedford Blues.
Elliott Clements-Hill put the Blues in front with a long-range penalty, but 10 minutes in Jersey hooker Joe Buckle scored what turned out to be the game's only try off the back of a rolling maul. Myles Dorrian added another three-pointer for Bedford, but two Brendan Cope kicks helped his side take an 11-6 lead into half-time.
The match had occasionally threatened to boil over, and after a brawl had broken out involving most of the players, Jersey's Nick Haining and Bedford's Josh Buggea were picked out as the culprits and banished to the sin-bin.
Both sides showed some glimpses of attacking potential, with good runs by Jersey's back three and a couple of opportunities for Bedford wing Dean Adamson, but these were never converted into tries. Things were fairly even at the set piece although Blues lost a fair amount of their own lineout ball while Jersey's lineouts were an improvement on the previous week's effort at Richmond.
The second half started with an early penalty chance for Cope, only for the Reds' fly-half to hit the post. Both sides could have added to their points tally, but the error count was high on a slippery afternoon and almost half an hour was played before Cope landed the first points of the second half with a penalty.
Bedford were the dominant team in the closing stages and a penalty from replacement Jake Sharp brought his side to within five points, setting up the opportunity to tie and possibly win the game. Blues pressed forward and replacement Mike Howard came desperately close to forcing his way over, but Jersey's defence held firm until the final whistle blew.
Jersey Head Coach Harvey Biljon said: "We had a lot of disruption, losing both second rows and having a hooker finish the game at flanker, and the character, desire and effort shown in response to that was fantastic. It wasn't pretty, and I wouldn't want to be in that position every week, but I will take two wins from two."
"The attitude and commitment was excellent and it could have brought us a win, but perhaps it was too little, too late," said Blues' Forwards Coach Martin Hynes. "We felt there were some shocking calls by the officials against both sides, and the skill levels weren't great, but it was a slippery old day and we played with pride against a quality Jersey side."
Blues' captain Michael Le Bourgeois said: "We should have scored but couldn't quite get over the line. We showed 100% improvement on our previous game but we still have work to do."
Jersey Reds: Cuthbert; Watkins, King, Robling, Adair; Cope, Hardy (Fisilau 50); Thomas (McCarthy 70), Buckle (Davies 79), Kerrod (Tampin 70), Phillips (Doyle 51), McKern (Kolo'ofa'i 50), Argyle, Freeman (Selway 55), Haining (YC 24).
Bedford Blues: Gallagher; Clement-Hill, Farrell, Le Bourgeois, Adamson; Dorrian (Sharp 70), Burns (James 48); Thompson-Stringer (Culverhouse 70), Fields (Edgson 55), Spelman (Judge 48), Carrick-Smith (Howard 62), Taylor, Hill, Buggea (YC 24), Adams. Unused replacement: Perkins.
REFEREE: Andrew Jackson. Assistants: Darryl Chapman, Michael Patz
Half Time: 11-6
Tries: Buckle 10
Penalties: Cope 14, 27, 69
Penalties: Clements-Hill 8, Dorrian 12, Sharp 72
18 May 2023
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