The Reds overpowered National 1 opponents Elthamians, scoring five tries to complete their pre-season preparations on a winning note.
The visitors competed gamely and showed great resolve in defence, but ultimately had to yield to a dominant pack which showed the difference in physicality between the second and third tiers of the English game.
Jersey were on the board within nine minutes as hooker Jack Macfarlane claimed the opening score from a maul. Then the ball was worked into midfield from an advancing scrum and Mark Best forced his way through close to the posts.
The first half finished with a dramatic gallop upfield by the Reds’ Jack Macfarlane after a charge-down. The hooker covered 70 metres and toe-ended the ball over the try-line, but was outpaced by OE full-back Ben Howard who touched down to end play.
Half-time replacement Roy Godfrey made his mark quickly with a powerful charge from close range and a stretch to the line for his side’s third. Scrum-half Will Homer added the fourth soon afterwards, but then the visitors produced a great 65-metre counter by Ben Howard and Kieran Moffat which ended with Dom McGeekie cantering under the posts.
Aaron Penberthy was making his first appearance after rejoining the Reds and recovering from illness – the fly-half landed all four of his conversion attempt and almost sparked a try after a 50-metre downfield, followed by an audacious dummy, but a potential scoring pass didn’t come off. The forwards got in on the action too, with Charlie Maddison setting up a run by Jerry Sexton, who linked nicely with Godfrey but again the move broke down at the crucial stage.
The game lost shape in the latter stages with multiple replacements and several injuries including a shoulder dislocation for OE replacement Nathan Thomas. Each side lost a player to the sin-bin – the visitors’ Alex Rogers for a scrummaging offence and Reds’ Conor Joyce for a lineout infringement. Maddison’s mauled try after 73 minutes, converted by Brett Herron, was the final score.
Jersey Head Coach Harvey Biljon said: “It was a frustrating game and Elthamians made it very stop-start in the second period, but five tries is a decent return given the nature of the game and the fact that we missed some other chances to score.
“Overall we’ve had a good pre-season, with a new group coming together. The players have stood up – there will be selection headaches before our first league match [at newly-promoted Coventry on September 1st].
“We will be up against it with three away games to start the league season, but the players have shown before they relish a challenge, and I hope this will pull them even closer together as a group.”
Elthamians’ Director of Rugby Gavin Lach said: “I thought it was an outstanding effort – the forwards were probably two stone a man lighter but stood up really well and defended superbly. There’ll be some sore bodies but I was really pleased with how it went.”
The first game of the day was a competitive Zoo Shield encounter between Jersey Reds Athletic and Elthamians Extras. The hosts scored first through Andy Pitcher but then Kieran McGann struck twice for the visitors and then a George Emerson try made it 7-21 early in the second half.
The Athletic fought back with a great Nathan Rogers try after Simon Johnson’s chip ahead and deft pass, and then George Willmott’s try reduced the arrears to just two points. But tries by Nathan Thomas and Piers Johnson sealed the win for OE and left the hosts, who finished the match camped on their opponents’ try-line, unlucky to come away with nothing to show for their efforts: FT 19-33.
Tries: Macfarlane 9, Best 23, Godfrey 17, Homer 52, Maddison 73
Conversions: Penberthy 9, 23, 45, 53, Herron 73
Tries: McGeekie 55
Conversions: White 55
Referee: Matt Turvey. Assistants: George Selwood, Peter Brunt
Man-of-the-match as chosen by match sponsor Geomarine: Max Argyle (Jersey Reds)
Worrall; Stapley, Marx, Best, Hodson; Penberthy, Mudariki; Morley, Macfarlane, Rodman, Sexton, Beckett, Argyle, Joyce (c) (YC 65), Hatherell.
Replacements: Maddison, Godfrey, Clarey, McKern, Bartle, Geldenhuys; Homer, Herron, Eastwell, Ma’afu, Slowik, Van Dam.
Howard; Lespierre, Moffat, Wilkins, Hotston; White, Claxton; Rogers (YC 50), Morris, Scutt, Hosking, Flashman, Messum, Ledger, King (c).
Replacements: L Brown, Rudland-Thomas, Bratton, Kovacic, Morgan, A Brown, Surman, North, Thomas, Grandidier, Little, McGeekie, Dockery.