Jersey Reds and London Irish shared 10 tries between them in an entertaining encounter, but it was the Exiles who claimed the win as a last-kick conversion by the hosts slipped just wide.
The visitors made a fast start with a jinking run by Matt Williams setting up Caolan Englefield for the opening score, and then Isaac Curtis-Harris burrowed over from close range to extend the lead.
Although Ben Woollett crossed for the Reds courtesy of an acrobatic leap in the corner, Irish pulled clear through a lineout drive, finished by Matt Cornish, and an arching, blisteringly fast run to the line by Ollie Hassell-Collins.
The home side got back into the contest before the break, with Woollett again involved on both occasions, firstly with a sharp finish in the corner and then with a leaping catch from a diagonal clearance by Tom Pittman that bounced cruelly for the Exiles and deft transfer of the ball to Alex McHenry for a canter to the line.
Hugh O’Sullivan, one of more than 30 replacements introduced by both sides, darted through for the fifth Irish try, but the Reds finished strongly and were camped on the Irish line for long periods, with a series of close-range scrums. The spell of pressure brought several penalties, one penalty try and yellow cards for Lovejoy Chawatama and Ben Atkins, but eventually the Reds felt compelled to broaden their line of attack and went wide for a try by Ryan Hutler, only for Russell Bennett’s conversion to go narrowly left of the posts.
Pic: Jacquie Ranieri
Referee: Anthony Woodthorpe. Assistants: Simon Adams and Jonathan Healy
Reds (15-9, 1-8): Brendan Owen; Ben Woollett, Alex McHenry, Dan Barnes, Will Brown; Tom Pittman, James Mitchell; Sam Grahamslaw, James Hadfield, Greg McGrath, James Scott, Macauley Cook (capt), Max Argyle, Josh Gray, Alun Lawrence.
Replacements: Eoghan Clarke, Antonio ‘TJ’ Harris, Greg McGrath, Steve Longwell, Monty Weatherby, James Dun, Lewis Wynne; James Elliott, Jonny Law, Brendan Cope, Russell Bennett, Ryan Hutler, Jordan Holgate, Charlie Powell, Tomi Lewis, Scott Van Breda.
Irish (1-15, 1st half): Facundo Gigena, Matt Cornish, Ollie Hoskins, Ed Scragg, Adam Coleman (capt), Ben Donnell, Isaac Curtis-Harris, Josh Basham; Caolan Englefield, Rory Jennings; Ollie Hassell-Collins, Matt Williams, Curtis Rona, Michael Dykes; James Stokes.
(1-15, 2nd half): Tarek Haffar, Isaac Miller, Lovejoy Chawatama (YC 81), Jake Caulfield, Rob Simmons (capt), Tom Pearson, Josh Smart, Ben Atkins (YC 79); Hugh O’Sullivan, Paddy Jackson; Michael Dykes, Benhard van Rensburg, Luca Morisi, Ben Loader; Jacob Akins.
Replacements: Joe Vajner, Tom Hitchcock
Tries: Woollett 18, 34, McHenry 39, Penalty Try 69, Hutler 85
Conversion: Pittman 40
Tries: Englefield 4, Curtis-Harris 10, Cornish 24, Hassell-Collins 27, O’Sullivan 48
Conversions: Jennings 4, 10, Jackson 48
18 May 2023
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