Jersey Reds claimed a thrilling win away at Lady Bay, scoring seven of the 12 tries in a ding-dong encounter which took them – temporarily at least – to the top of the Championship rankings.
The game kicked off 41 minutes late on a cold day which had seen rain at times, the majority of which had passed by the time the players took to the field. The delay was caused by there being no ambulance on-site at the time of the scheduled 7.45pm start, with the referee eventually acquiescing to suggestions that the players should warm up a second time before the game started.
As Scott Van Breda eventually kicked off, the Reds immediately began to pressurize their hosts and before too long Tom Pittman worked a grubber kick through and Ryan Olowofela raced through to touch down. ‘SVB’ hit the post with an unsuccessful attempt to add the extras.
It wasn’t 0-5 for long: Will Brown went close and as the forwards followed up with power and numbers Steve Longwell crossed and this time the con was good.
Callum Allen gave the home crowd something to cheer about when he closed from close-range, but then there was a moment to treasure for Jersey and their supporters as Harry Doolan finished a rolling maul for his maiden try for the Reds on his first start.
Attempts to add a fourth try were scuppered when Harry Graham pounced and raced clear for Nottingham’s second as the first quarter ended.
The second quarter was a less frenzied affair with just one more try: Brown racing after a kick ahead, deftly kicking forward and touching down for 12-22 at the break.
Doolan and his fellow forwards got an early chance after the resumption when the Archers were penalised for holding on and Van Breda kicked to the corner. The hooker found skipper Macauley Cook and then followed up to steer the maul over and touch down, with SVB adding two more points.
The pace of scoring picked up again, the next score coming from home wing David Williams after some nice phases and Bunting restoring the 10-point deficit.
A quick tap by Scott Van Breda from a penalty award set up the sixth Jersey try as the South African kicked the ball forward and Brown followed up at pace to claim the try.
The 10th try of the game was for the hosts with Bunting the scorer after 63 minutes, and once again it was a 10-point game (24-34) with the Reds now having introduced all of their eight replacements.
Achieving a bonus point for their fourth try was far from the limit of Nottingham ambitions and the hosts pressed forward as the clock ran down, with Williams eventually adding his second and Bunting converting for 31-34.
Supporters following the game back on the Rock may have been beside themselves, but the Reds focused and when the home side knocked on, the visitors finally applied the coup-de-grace through two back-row replacements: Lewis Wynne went close and then Wes White crossed, with SVB’s excellent conversion the last kick of a pulsating evening’s rugby.
Pics: Simon Hall
NOTTINGHAM: Stapley; Williams D, Thacker, Simonds, Graham; Bunting, Marsh; Williams T, Vanes, Betts, Hall, Allen, Cox, Tweedy, Poullet (capt).
Replacements: Farnworth, Sio, McNulty, Ramshaw, Barrett, Stronge, Hollingsworth, Peachey.
JERSEY REDS: Owen B; Olowofela, Van Breda, Holgate (Hutler 53), Brown; Pittman, Mitchell (Elliott 53); Godfrey (Owen H 49), Doolan (Clarke 63), Longwell (Yendle 49), O’Connor (Everard 60), Cook (capt), Argyle, Grey (Wynne 51), Lawrence (White 60).
REFEREE: Anthony Woodthorpe. Assistants: Gregg Dawson, Andy Ashwell
Half Time: 12-22
Tries: Allen 10, Graham 20, Williams 49, 77, Bunting 63
Conversions: Bunting 10, 49, 77
Tries: Olowofela 2, Longwell 6, Doolan 18, 43, Brown 31, 52, White 80
Conversions: Van Breda 6, 43, 80
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