The Reds were rocked by a committed display from visitors London Scottish which resulted in a first league defeat on home turf since the loss to Ealing in mid-February 2018.
The Exiles took their chances in scoring three tries to rack up a 24-point lead soon after half-time, and the deficit was too much for the home side in spite of an improved second half display.
Although the Reds won the game’s first scrum with a massive shove, the second scrum resulted in a free kick under the home side’s posts, and when Grayson Hart took a quick tap, Tom Fowlie was able to find Matt Eliet to charge over the line. Rory Jennings, briefly a Jersey player on loan in 2016, added five points from the resulting conversion and a close-range penalty.
The home side began to string together some phases, but these attacks invariably ended with a handling error or a turnover, while the Exiles were being more clinical with their opportunities. An overthrown lineout was seized by Billy Harding and the hooker raced to the line for his side’s second try.
The last chance before half-time was for Jersey from a penalty near half-way, but Brett Herron kicked the ball dead, and then a long cross-field pass failed to find the intended recipient and the whistle blew.
Looking to trim the 17-point deficit after the restart, the Reds gained an attacking platform from a penalty, only to again lose a lineout, and within two minutes had fallen further behind thanks to some superb Scottish handling. Jennings made the break from halfway and found Jonny Harris, before Lewis Wynne and Charlie Ingall took the ball on and Eliet crossed the try-line.
With a stiff wind at their back and some impact from the bench, the Reds had most of the territory and possession in the second half but with little success against a blue defensive wall. Kyle Hatherell finished a rolling maul to get the home side on the board – the back row man’s first try for Jersey – but the Reds couldn’t add to their tally until it was too late. Ollie Dawe saw yellow as the Scots conceded one penalty too many, and Mark Best crossed for a Jersey consolation in the last play.
Jersey Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon was bitterly disappointed to see his team go down to their third consecutive defeat.
“There were several areas of our game that just didn’t function – lineout, execution out of hand, core skills, unforced errors – and we’ll need to address those,” he said. “The squad is a very honest group and they will know what work is required before the coaches sit down with them.”
The result was one to treasure for the Scots’ DoR Dave Morris.
“It was an outstanding performance and a great achievement to get the double over a very good side,” he said. “The defensive work was fantastic and there was real belief from the whole group that we could go out and get the result we wanted.”
JERSEY REDS: Herron; Stapley, Newey, Eastwell, Van Dam; Penberthy (Best 49), Howley (Homer 46); Morley (Godfrey 49), Selway (Macfarlane 46), Rodman (Alexis 57), Sexton (c), McKern (Beckett 57), Bartle, Joyce (Venter 46), Hatherell
LONDON SCOTTISH: Ingall; Beattie, Fowlie, Vernon (c), Mantella; Jennings, Hart (Barton 65); Harris (Dawe 55 YC 79), Harding (Saunders 64), Cringle (Litchfield 55), Vukasinovic, Frost, Tyas (Harris 79), Wynne, Eliet (Grant 53)
Not used: Veratau, Harris
REFEREE: Adam Leal. Assistants: Michael Patz, Gregory Garner
Half Time: 0-17
Star Man-of-the-match (as chosen by match sponsor Rowney Sharman): Rory Jennings (London Scottish)
Tries: Hatherell 58, Best 80
Conversions: Herron 58, 80
Tries: Eliet 11, 42, Harding 21
Conversions: Jennings 11, 21, 42
Penalty: Jennings 15