Jersey Reds got back to winning ways and kick-started their B&I campaign off in the best possible way with a bonus point win at home under the lights at Stade Santander International.
Playing down the slope in the first half, the Reds were quick to pin the visitors back into their own half, and when a shot at goal was on offer after 4 minutes, Cope made no mistake.
This steadied the nerves, and Jersey kept pinning Yorkshire back and at the same time putting themselves in the right areas. A scrum on the edge of the Carnegie 22 was driven back before Matt Rogerson picked up and surged towards the line. He was tackled, but not held, recovered and still had enough momentum to force his way over to score. Cope converted.
The lineout worked well throughout the evening when using quick ball off the top, but the usually dependable 'catch and drive' didn't function as it should, and a gift of an opportunity in the Bowl corner went begging. The Reds set the drive, but it was easily stopped, and when the ball wasn't used quick enough Yorkshire were awarded a scrum to clear.
Yorkshire reduced the deficit after 24 minutes with a straight forward penalty, but were still never really putting the hosts under pressure.
Another catch and drive opportunity in the opposite Airport corner again didn't produce the results, and the next score came as Cope converted a penalty to re-establish the 10 point lead.
Jersey's second try came from a quick lineout. The ball came off the top and was spun out to Apakuki Ma'afu in the centre, who carried into the Yorkshire 22. It was quickly recycled, and with the visitors on the back foot, Tom Pincus sliced through the defence and then bullied his way over the whitewash. Again Cope converted to take the score to 20-3, and that was how it was at half time.
The first opportunity of the second half for Jersey came following a penalty. Cope put us into the Scoreboard corner, and whilst the banging boards were ringing in the ears, the drive never got going. Yorkshire won a scrum that we drove back into their deadball to win back the advantage. Recognising that they were under pressure, Carnegie replaced both props, and the Reds couldn't repeat the demolition.
Persistant pressure led to Jersey's next score. The ball was recycled time and again and moved from left to right before desperate defence stopped the attack about 1m short. Following a number of failed pick and go attempts, it was Uili Kolo'ofa'i, on his return, who forced his way over. Cope then converted again to stretch the lead to 27-3.
Jersey's 4th and final try was again the product of quick lineout ball. Macfarlane, who was by now on for Selway, found his man at the back of the lineout on the edge of the Carnegie 22 in Pav corner. It was played down quickly to Hardy who burst through a static defence to score.
With the result now looking assured around the hour mark, and a bonus point in the bag, Harvey Biljon introduced the remaining replacements including, to the delight of the home faithful, Scott McClurg from the Amateur Athletic side who has been training with the first team on selected days.
In fairness to Yorkshire, they never gave up and continued to win clean ball from their own lineouts and scrum, but the Reds defence was consistently quickly up to thwart attacks and unsettle the opposition.
Late on in the half, the visitors thought that they had scored following a swift move of their own from a lineout when they crossed in the Bowl corner, but the referee adjudged the scoring pass to have been forward, and the Reds cleared their lines from the resulting scrum.
Following a tough week hampered by squad injuries that had disrupted some of the preparations, Head Coach Harvey Biljon was full of praise for his charges. "Credit to the boys, and let them enjoy the moment. It has been a tough week, but our preparation was on point, and we then executed it well on the pitch".
Jersey are away next Saturday in the second of their pool games against a Dragons' Select side in Caerphilly, with kick off at 2.30pm, and return to St Peter in the league against Bristol on Saturday 28th October.
Jersey Reds Women play here at 1pm tomorrow (Saturday 14th) whilst the Athletic are away against Esher Cardinals.
JERSEY REDS: Worrall; Pincus, Abrahams (McClurg 59), Ma'afu, Hodson; Cope, Hardy (Dudley 61); Godfrey (c) (Brodley 59), Selway (Macfarlane 54), Armstrong (Clarey 47), Voss (Sexton 59), Kolo'ofa'i, Bartle (Upfield 51), Joyce, Rogerson.
YORKSHIRE CARNEGIE: Brown; Davies, Forsyth, Bullough, Hamilton; Davey, Green (Fox 67); Imiolek (Beech 44), Buckle (Newborn 69), Thraves (Millar-Mills 44), Smith, Sanderson (Whetton 51), Beck, Wilson (Ward 20), Stedman
REFEREE: Anthony Woodthorpe. Assistants: Darryl Chapman, Bill Burton
Half Time: 20-3
Man-of-the-match (as chosen by match sponsor Brooks Macdonald): Matt Rogerson (Jersey Reds)
Tries: Rogerson 10, Pincus 36, Kolo'ofa'i 50, Hardy 59
Conversions: Cope 12, 36, 52
Penalties: Cope 4, 32
Penalty: Davey 24
21 Sep 2023
Chiefs visit Stade for first-ever Jersey encounter