The Reds racked up six tries to start their pre-season schedule with a comfortable win over National 1 opponents Elthamians.
The home side made a strong start, winning a penalty from the kick-off, kicking to the corner and launching a powerful maul from which hooker Jack Macfarlane rumbled over. The Scotsman repeated the trick to make it 12-0 to his side at the end of the first quarter.
There were some promising moments for both sides, but errors in execution meant the scoreboard didn’t move again until Jersey back row man Conor Joyce went over after a series of attacking phases for his side which left Elthamians running out of defenders.
The visitors had the final word in the first half, attacking from a maul before scrum-half Rhys Morgan seized the ball and hared to the line from close range.
Another fast start saw the Reds claim 14 points in the opening five minutes of the second half. Leroy Van Dam made a fine break and got close to the try-line and it was supporting full-back Conor Joyce who stretched over. Then Macfarlane completed a hat-trick courtesy of another well-worked catch-and-drive.
The higher-ranked side were frustrated for much of the second period, deprived of the ball and conceding several penalties. Elthamians withstood a period with 14 men after Mike Kovacic saw yellow for blocking a quickly-taken penalty, but eventually replacement Tom Williams crossed on his Reds’ debut to complete the scoring.
Elthamians, who included former Reds George Eastwell and Jared Saunders in their squad, finished the game pushing for a second score, but the Red defence held firm.
Jersey director of rugby Harvey Biljon was pleased with his side’s first outing of pre-season, which closely emulated the contest between the sides 12 months previously, which finished 35-7 to the Reds.
“There were some promising signs, both up-front and in the endeavour shown by our back-line,” he said. “It was a typical pre-season game, with quite a few errors, bit overall a really good hit-out.
“There were stages in the second half where we couldn’t get hold of the ball, and also had 10 changes, so that explains the fact that we couldn’t get on the scoreboard for quite a while.”
The DoR was also pleased with the application of his players who he felt were focused on the game rather than distracted by the prospect of the trip to Moscow to take on Russia in their next game.
“There’s plenty of competition for places, and I think the players know they have to take their opportunities when they get them,” he said.
Elthamians director of rugby Gavin Lach said: “I was genuinely very, very pleased and thought we were outstanding. National 1 will be an absolute dogfight this season, with possibly eight teams in contention, but if we play like we did today we’ll be in the mix.”
The two clubs’ 2nd XVs played a Zoo Shield encounter earlier in the day, with Elthamians defeating Jersey Reds Athletic 19-21. The visitors were 5-7 up at the break, with Charlie Hubert claiming the Jersey try. After the visitors pulled 5-14 ahead, Tim Corson struck back for the Athletic, but then Elthamians sealed the win in the 77th minute, although Euan Spencer’s last-gasp try gave the home side a deserved bonus point.
Slowik; Stapley, Spencer, Best, Van Dam; Penberthy, Howley; Morley, Macfarlane, Clarey, Thompson, Offer, Upfield, Joyce, Argyle (c). Replacements: Harris, Godfrey, Wayland, Beckett, Bainbridge, Hatherell, Jones, Dyer, Williams, Newey
M’Boge; Hotston, Golledge, Eastwell, Lipede; Landray, Morgan; Concu, Devine, North, Parker, Hosking, Kovacic (YC 62), Barton, Ledger. Replacements: Hay, Saunders, Morris, Self, Flashman, Elbrow, Claxton, White, Dockery
Referee: Fergus Kirby
Man-of-the-match (as chosen by match sponsor Geomarine): Alex Thompson (Jersey Reds)
Tries: Macfarlane 2, 19, 45, Joyce 31, Slowik 42, Williams 74
Conversions: Penberthy 2, 42, 45
Try: Morgan 40
Conversion: Landray 40
/*pic by Sue Armes*/