A clinical display by the Reds ensured the best possible result over tenacious visitors Doncaster Knights.
The home side scored four tries and kept their opponents out of range to overtake them in the cup rankings with two rounds to play.
Playing into a strong wind, the Reds face a strong test of their defence in the opening stages – which was passed with flying colours – before opening the scoring just before the mid-point of the first half with hooker TJ Harris finishing a rolling maul. But the Knights hit back when Matt Challinor surged over from close range soon after Jersey flanker Max Argyle had been sin-binned for persistent infringement.
A largely turgid first half was lit up by Reds winger Alex Morgan just before the break. The teenager, on loan from Gloucester, received the ball near half-way and showed great pace and a lethal sidestep to break through and surge to the try-line.
Brendan Cope doubled his side’s three-point interval lead soon after the resumption with a penalty following a collapsed scrum, but the visitors responded when scrum-half Gus Warr burst off the side of a maul and crashed over.
Two tries in six minutes were decisive for the home side, even though they were again reduced to 14 men after a high tackle by Janco Venter. Firstly the ball was turned over at a ruck and spun quickly wide with new signing Rodney Iona giving the scoring pass to Brendan Owen; then there was some fortune as an overthrown lineout was snaffled by Cope who was able to saunter under the posts.
The Knights pulled one back when replacement prop Joe Sproston powered over from close range, but the visitors weren’t able to achieve a further try that would have brought a brace of bonus points.
Reds DoR Harvey Biljon was satisfied with the 5-0 points split, although concerned by some of the disciplinary lapses that included two yellow cards and 15 penalties conceded.
“We didn’t have many opportunities, especially in the first half, but when we got into the right positions, we scored, and I thought that was the big difference,” he said.
“It was a pretty physical encounter, and I was pleased that we put pressure on the Doncaster lineout and forced them to change how they were playing.
“I’m very happy with five points, although there still areas we need to work on, notably our discipline. We need to move on quickly from this game and focus on Hartpury at home next Saturday, which is a really important game.”
JERSEY REDS: Slowik; Morgan, Spencer (Newey 52), Iona, Owen; Cope, Homer (Jones 63); Morley (Godfrey 77), Harris (Dolly 70), Clarey (Atalifo 70), Bartle, Hatherell (Beckett 70), Argyle (Upfield 70), Bainbridge, Venter. Unused: Dyer
DONCASTER KNIGHTS: McColl; Packman, Hayes, Foley (Burden 70), Wilson; Olver, Warr (Pocklington 70); Thomas (Hislop 56), Edgson (Holling 70), Foster (Sproston 52), Challinor, Eames, Conradie, Hills (c), Moore (Suter 52). Unused: Evans, Hunter
REFEREE: Michael Hudson. Assistants: Lionel Spooner, Roy Maybank
Half Time: 10-7
Tries: Harris 18, Morgan 37, Owen 63, Cope 69
Conversions: Cope 63, 69
Penalty: Cope 42
Tries: Challinor 33, Warr 47, Sproston 77
Conversion: Olver 33
/*pics – Rich Chapman & Ollie Pinel*/