The Reds produced a powerful display to overwhelm London Scottish and take a giant stride towards the quarter-finals of the Championship Cup.
The home pack were at the heart of the win, with hooker Eoghan Clarke scoring the first five tries of the match as the Exiles were punished ruthlessly for regular penalty concessions.
The Scots conceded their first penalty within two minutes of kick-off and Clarke claimed his first try from a maul, although the visitors struck back when the Reds failed to deal with Harry Sheppard’s kick over the top and Noah Ferdinand pounced to score.
Clarke’s scoring spree continued with two more mauled efforts and then a sprint down the flank after a well-worked move from a lineout, the ball having been caught by Sean O’Connor and transferred deftly by Lewis Wynne and Tim Grey. Exiles’ flanker Will Trenholm was sin-binned for a high tackle from the restart and this provided the cue for Clarke’s fifth from another attacking lineout. Once again things went wrong for the visitors within seconds of restarting the game as Ryan Olowofela picked off an ambitious pass by a Scottish forward, racing 75 metres to score on the stroke of half-time.
Olowofela crossed again from Lewis Wynne’s pass within three minutes of the resumption. Half-time replacement Brendan Cope, back in action after a seven-month injury lay-off, made an incisive 20-metre run in the build-up to the try, although there was also some good fortune as a pass appeared to be knocked on whereas it had in fact deflected off Steve Longwell’s face. A potential rout looked on the cards, but in the event the second half was closer as the visitors were able to counter the Reds more effectively.
Replacement Tom Everard added his side’s eighth from yet another maul, but the Exiles were competing gamely and Javiah Pohe scored their second try with 10 minutes to play.
There was some excellent energy from several of the home side’s replacements, notably Cope, scrum-half Will Lane, back row man Alex Humfrey and props Roy Godfrey and Adam Nicol.
The closing stages featured two more yellow cards – Ehize Ehizode of Scottish for slapping the ball down and Humfrey after a fracas – and a final try for the home side. The score came again within seconds of the restart: Levis Davis tried to run out of defence, but was stripped by Nicol and the ball fed swiftly by Max Argyle and Humfrey to Dan Barnes, who coasted to the line with support runners to spare.
Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon said his Jersey side had been motivated by pre-match talk of an upset from the Exiles camp, praising the work of his players.
“Eoghan’s scored five tries, but would be the first to credit the team,” he said. “What a platform there was for him – a great combination of discipline, territory and execution.”
Biljon said the two-week break before the second leg would be “the longest half-time we’ll ever have” but said his team would be determined to maintain their momentum once the contest resumes after Easter.
Scottish DoR Matt Williams said: “I actually thought we played quite well in the first half, but Jersey have the best driving maul in the league and almost every time we conceded a penalty, they scored.
“The return leg in two weeks will be about finishing the season by putting in a performance that we can be proud of on home turf.”
The winner of the match on aggregate score will face Hartpury University or Richmond in the quarter-finals, with the Gloucestershire side having the edge after a 26-61 win at the RAG in the first leg. Should the Reds end up facing Hartpury - which is not yet certain - the away leg would be first, with the home league at Stade Santander International likely to be played on the evening of Friday May 6th.
Pictures: Rich Chapman
JERSEY REDS: Owen; Olowofela (Lane 56), Roberts (Cope h-t), Barnes, Van Breda; Leeming, Elliott; Flynn (Godfrey 47), Clarke (Harris 44), Longwell (Nicol 47), O’Connor (Everard 51), Cook, Argyle (Humfrey 51, YC 60), Wynne (capt), Grey (Thompson 52).
LONDON SCOTTISH: Morris (Hanks 56); Ferdinand, Hyde, Halaifonua (Pohe 34), Davis; Sheppard (capt) (Hoadley 46), Nutton; Ellwood (Nwakor 28), Head (Gibson 65), Wilson (Gratton 52), Lewis, Ehizode (YC58) (Reynolds 73), Trenholm (YC 35), Ingall, King (Dawes 24)
REFEREE: Joe James. Assistants: Darryl Chapman, James Clarke
Half Time: 38-7
Tries: Clarke 3, 15, 28, 33, 38, Olowofela 39, 43, Everard 52, Barnes 72
Conversions: Leeming 3, 15, 33, 40, 43, 52
Tries: Ferdinand 7, Pohe 70
Conversions: Sheppard 7, Nutton 70
03 Feb 2023
Home side look to improve poor record over London rivals