Although short of the standards set in recent weeks, the Reds recovered from a bad start to claim a fifth successive win in the Greene King IPA Championship.
After conceding two early tries, the home side scored twice in six minutes to level the scores and then broke the game open with another two-try burst just after the hour.
Visitors Richmond were two tries to the good within 10 minutes, both scores coming from driving mauls. Scrum-half Luc Jones dived through a gap for the first, and then Myles Scott powered over. The Reds then rolled out the same weapon, with Nick Selway crossing from a lineout drive, and soon unveiled a more flowing move that saw Koch Marx attack from inside his own half and Jason Worrall feed Calum Waters for a 30-metre sprint to the posts (pictured below by Rich Chapman).
Both sides had chances to add to their 14-point tally, including a penalty shot at goal by Richmond’s Rob Kirby that drifted across the posts, and a fine run by Leroy Van Dam after the Reds’ winger took a high ball, but then the home side landed two crucial blows just after the hour. Janco Venter, part of an impressive back row effort alongside Max Argyle and Rory Bartle, attacked from the base of a scrum and found replacement scrum-half Will Homer with a scoring pass; then the Reds spread the ball across the full width of the pitch to Charlie Maddison on the right. The replacement hooker showed great handling skill to pass the ball over his shoulder to the supporting Koch Marx who raced 25 metres to the line.
The visitors finished strongly – after competing well all afternoon, the Richmond pack turned the screw at a series of attacking scrums and eventually gained a penalty try, with Reds prop Cameron Holenstein sin-binned for a repeat scrummaging offence. Around five minutes remained to force a draw, but Richmond were unable to score again.
“To get five points when you aren’t at your best is a good sign,” said Reds’ Head Coach Harvey Biljon. “We made it hard for ourselves and should be able to close out a game better than that – we’ll need to improve significantly if we’re going to compete with London Irish next week.”
Richmond Director of Rugby Steve Hill was disappointed his side only had a point to show for their efforts.
“Jersey’s a difficult place to come – our scrum was magnificent but a couple of individual errors contributed to their scores, although they were hanging on at the end.”
The visiting team’s preparations for the match were affected by the loss of several players’ kitbags on their Friday afternoon flight, with the missing items not arriving until just before the delayed 3.30pm kick-off.
JERSEY REDS: Slowik; Worrall (Morley 78), Marx, Best, Van Dam; Herron (Penberthy 52), Waters (Homer 52); Morley (Holenstein 55, YC 76), Selway (Maddison 53), Atalifo (Rodman 60), Sexton (c), McKern (Beckett 55), Argyle, Bartle, Venter (Upfield 69).
RICHMOND: Kirby; Edgerley, Mitchell (c), McLean (Hudson 69), Simpson-Hefft; Dennett, Jones; Goodrick-Clarke (Cunnew 58), Grimstone (Phipps 62), Trenier (Spelman 60), Scott (Saysell 58), Lenygon, Warden, Liston, Parker. Unused replacements: Boyce, Cook.
REFEREE: Karl Dickson. Assistants: Nick Marshall, Bill Burton
Half Time: 14-14
Man-of-the-match (as chosen by match sponsor Santander International): Max Argyle (Jersey Reds)
Tries: Selway 16, Waters 22, Homer 61, Marx 65
Conversions: Herron 16, 22, Penberthy 61, 65
Tries: Jones 6, Scott 10, Penalty Try 76
Conversions: Kirby 6, 10