Jersey Reds came within an inch of seizing a last-gasp win at Lady Bay, when an equalising try was followed by a conversion attempt by Brendan Cope which hit the post to leave the sides locked together and gaining two league points apiece.
The Reds got the dream start on a bitterly cold evening after fielding the kick-off, executing a couple of strong phases and then feeding the ball to Auguy Slowik. Moved from full-back to wing, the speedster needed no encouragement to attack and chipped ahead, gathered the ball and touched down for the try. Brendan Cope slotted an excellent conversion.
Tiff Eden got the hosts on the board with a penalty after nine minutes, and Cope missed a chance to respond when his shot for three points went wide. There was considerable injury disruption – first of all Mark Best was off for a head injury assessment, returning safely, but then more seriously four players went down. Jared Saunders went off with a blood injury and Slowik also departed the fray with his arm in a makeshift sling.
Strong defence and some handling errors by the Green & Whites meant there was no addition to the score until Will Millett broke through midfield and touched down by the posts, with the conversion making it 10-7.
The score stayed that way until the dying moments of the half when Jersey kicked a penalty to the corner, executed a perfect rolling maul, and replacement hooker Nick Selway finished the job, with Cope slotting another decent conversion to bring an end to the half.
The third quarter was scoreless – the hosts perhaps had the better chances but were scuppered at the set-piece with good work by the Reds’ pack. But then the hosts began to assert themselves, beginning to win penalties and in the course of seven minutes Tiff Eden knocked over three penalties to put the Green & Whites 19-14 ahead.
It looked as if the hosts might have timed their run to the line perfectly, but then the penalty count reversed and the Reds were able to build a platform for another perfect maul – Selway touched down to level the scores before Cope was agonisingly close with the last kick.
The Reds finish the first half of the Greene King IPA Championship with four wins and a draw from 11 games, and now break for two weeks of British & Irish Cup action with back-to-back ties against London Scottish. The Exiles visit Stade Santander International on Saturday December 9th, kicking off at 3pm against the so-far unbeaten Reds.
NOTTINGHAM: Scanlon; Robinson, Millett, Hakalo, Williams; Eden, McConnell; Penman (Burke 72), Stevens (Brownlie 67), Burke (Sio 53), Holmes (Cardall 34), Qualter, Morris (c) Coghlan (Everard 63), Buckley (Poullet 57). Not used: Crocker, Goble
JERSEY REDS: Cope (Hardy 33-40); Pincus, Ma’afu, Best, Slowik (Worrall 33); Bryant, Dudley (Hardy 70); Godfrey (c) (Woolmore 64), Saunders (Selway 34-40, 59), Armstrong (Atalifo 59), Sexton, Kolo’ofa’i (Mckern 53), Joyce, Nagle-Taylor (Argyle 59), Rogerson.
REFEREE: Andrew Jackson. Assistants: Chris Sharp, Ian Bibey
Half Time: 10-14
Try: Millett 35
Conversion: Eden 35
Penalties: Eden 9, 65, 67, 70
Tries: Slowik 1, Selway 40, 80
Conversions: Cope 1, 40