The Reds produced a second-half masterclass in how to control a game when playing into a headwind, helping achieve what might appear to be a relatively comfortable bonus-point win.
In truth it was anything but straightforward for a home side who had underperformed during the first half and were clinging to a two-point lead on the hour mark before knuckling down with power and composure to put the game to bed.
The Reds made the early running and used a penalty advantage from a scrum to work the ball wide. Backs and forwards combined as Sean O’Connor punched a hole in midfield and offloaded to James Flynn, who quickly found Scott Van Breda, with the ball spun via Jack Roberts to Will Brown, who applied the finishing touch in the corner.
After Van Breda’s conversion attempt clanged into the upright, Richmond responded into the wind with a powerful maul. The initial lineout may have been 20 metres out, but the rumble maintained momentum and Jared Cardew ploughed over.
After the visiting number seven got his name on the score-sheet, his Jersey counterpart did the same two minutes later, Tim Grey touching down after a powerful run at close range.
The Reds were unable to add to their points tally in the second quarter, hindered by several lost lineouts and other inaccuracies, but held their lead when Scott Van Breda read James Kane’s dummy and crunched the visiting fly-half when a try seemed likely.
The wind didn’t let up when the teams returned after half-time, with an early sign of this being a clearance by Kane from just outside his 22 that bounced on and smashed into the advertising hoardings in front of the Investec Terrace 80 metres away.
Jersey efforts to control the game were producing a more even territorial battle than in the first period, although initially there were no points to show for this, the closest being a break by Tom Pittman that saw the fly-half being penalised for jumping back to his feet after a tackle.
Another attack by the Reds offered a glimpse of an overlap on the right wing, but attempts to get the ball wide to Brendan Owen were read by Richmond’s Jake Caddy, who intercepted and sprinted home from 50 metres. Kane’s conversion was missed, leaving the Reds 12-10 ahead.
The home forwards had come out for the second half brimming with determination, and established themselves in the loose and at set pieces, with several scrum penalties and some flawless lineout execution. The Reds’ discipline was also impressive, with an estimate of only six penalties conceded across the 80 minutes.
Just after the hour, a penalty award set up a chance for an attacking Jersey maul, converted by Eoghan Clarke for his 11th try of the season after Macauley Cook had taken the lineout ball.
Richmond were far from finished, and pressed forward to earn a penalty close to the Jersey 22. With a seven-point deficit, skipper Mark Bright agreed that Kane should kick for goal, although some members of the visiting contingent had favoured going for the try. Kane’s kick was successful, meaning the visitors could win the game with a try.
The Reds responded in fine style, securing possession from Van Breda’s hanging restart via Lewis Wynne and Sean O’Connor. Omitted from the starting line-up for the first time this season, Wynne made a real impact during the final quarter alongside another replacement, Max Argyle.
Richmond conceded a penalty for obstruction, allowing the Reds to set up camp in their opponents 22 and eventually claim a fourth try. There were good thrusts by Jordan Holgate and Argyle and eventually Holgate fed Brown who broke Kane’s tackle and squeezed over in the corner.
Brown’s final contribution was a defensive one as he brought down Max Trimble and dragged the Richmond players feet across the touchline when a try seemed likely, and in the dying stages a final attack by the visitors from much closer to their own line saw the ball dropped and kicked to the in-goal area by James Mitchell, who followed up to score. Van Breda’s conversion was the final act before referee Hamish Smales blew the final whistle.
Smales was returning to the Island for the first time since scoring a try for Tynedale in a 26-8 defeat by the Reds in a National 1 fixture in November 2011, when Scotland and Gloucester centre Chris Harris was also among the visting backline.
After the game, Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon hailed the effort of his Reds’ squad.
“I wasn’t overly-confident at half-time,” he said. “The conditions were tough, but I think we managed them better.
“The elements that our coaches had highlighted during the week worked well, we were accurate and disciplined, and key players stood up at crucial moments.”
Richmond Head Coach Rob Powell was disappointed with the outcome of the second half.
“We thought that with the wind we had put ourselves in a good position,” he said. “Unfortunately we couldn’t compete as well in the second half as a result of the errors we made and the penalties we conceded.
“The game was tighter than the score suggested, but in the second half we found ourselves defending when it should have been Jersey on the back foot.”
Pictures: Rich Chapman
JERSEY REDS: Van Breda; Owen, Roberts (Olowofela 74), Holgate, Brown; Pittman, Mitchell (Elliott ); Flynn (Godfrey 68), Clarke (Doolan ), Longwell (Higgins ), O’Connor, Cook (capt), Humfrey (Argyle 55), Grey (Wynne 65), Lawrence. Not used: Doolan, Godfrey, Higgins, Everard, Elliott.
RICHMOND: Kaye (Landray 61); James (Trimble 73), Anyanwu, Mclean, Caddy; Kane, Lennon (Stafford 53); Harris (Spring 76), Perks (Hadfield 51), Litchfield (Ntinga 53), Hosking, Carrick-Smith (Collingridge 73), Worthington, Cardew (Benson 65), Bright (capt).
REFEREE: Hamish Smales. Assistants: Charlie Gayther, Darryl Chapman
Half Time: 12-5
Man-of-the-match (as chose by match sponsor Hartigan): Will Brown (Jersey Reds)
Tries: Brown 14, 72, Grey 20, Clarke 63, Mitchell 79
Conversions: Van Breda 20, 80
Tries: Cardew 17, Caddy 54
Penalty: Kane 69
18 May 2023
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