Jersey suffered a narrow defeat by just one point at the hands
of Plymouth Albion, their first defeat in four trips to
The Islanders produced a battling display but failures in
execution meant that Albion were able to register a crucial win,
earning four points to help in the battle against Championship
The home side took an early lead when a Jersey pass was
intercepted by Sam Simmonds who fed Jack Arnott for a 40-metre run
to the line.
Jersey's driving maul was a powerful weapon once again and enabled
the visitors to draw level after 14 minutes, Ryan Hodson finishing
off the move and Aaron Penberthy's conversion adding two more
The match was an attritional affair with a series of scrums
usually ended by a blast from the whistle of referee Luke Pearce,
while Jersey had the edge in the lineouts where the home side
struggled to retain possession.
After 25 minutes Nick Campbell was sin-binned for Jersey for a
'clothes-line' tackle on scrum-half Josh Davies, and the home side
took full advantage of the Scotsman's absence, kicking forward and
then attacking with a maul. The ball came out and Rhys Oakley
scuttled over. Declan Cusack missed what looked like a
straightforward conversion, albeit into a stiff and icy wind.
Jersey could have reduced the lead, levelled the scores or even
gone ahead by half-time. Several kickable penalties were worked to
the corner but Hodson's effort to repeat his try was inches short
and Plymouth weathered the siege.
Early in the second period Cusack landed a 45-metre penalty to
extend his side's lead to 15-7, but Jersey were back in it on 48
minutes - another powerful maul and Samisoni Fisilau drove over at
the back. Penberthy's conversion attempt was from the same spot as
Cusack's earlier effort, with the same result - a miss.
Both sides attacked with real intent, but there were no further
scores until Jersey went ahead with 15 minutes to go. Once again
the forwards had a chance to set the platform from an amazing
40-metre maul, and then the ball was worked wide for Penberthy to
crash over. Once again the Cornishman couldn't add the extras, this
time from a difficult angle.
Jersey's two-point lead was the first time they'd been ahead, but
it wasn't to last for long, with Cusack landing an identical
penalty to his earlier effort. This set the stage for a nail-biting
finale in which Jersey pressed forward and won several penalties;
the last was 40 metres out but Penberthy found touch five metres
from the line. All set for the winning score? Well maybe it was,
but the throw was not straight and the hosts held on and celebrated
Jersey slipped from sixth to seventh after the weekend's game,
Pirates moving above them. At the bottom, Albion moved onto 20
points and narrowed the gap to Doncaster and Moseley to five and
three points respectively - all to play for.
While Jersey weren't lacking in desire and performed strongly in
defence, Head Coach Harvey Biljon was struggling to explain his
side's errors and the failure to turn periods of pressure into more
than 17 points.
"It was very frustrating that we failed to manage the game as we
set out,' he said. 'We knew we'd be turning round into the wind
after half-time, but we didn't make the right adjustments for this
and Plymouth played the conditions better than we did."
Biljon defended the decision to seek a try at the end of the
first half rather than kick for goal. "We had already shown what we
could do with our maul, and on another day it could have been a
yellow card and a penalty try," he said. "Things may have gone our
way in recent weeks, but that didn't happen today and we didn't
Tries: Arnott 5 Oakley 27
Conversion: Cusack 6
Penalties: Cusack 43, 71
Tries: Hodson 14, Fisilau 48, Penberthy 65
Conversion: Penberthy 14
Plymouth Albion (1-15): Tom Fidler, Tom
Cowan-Dickie, Andy Tiedemann, Neale Patrick, Tom Hicks, Eoghan
Grace, Sam Simmonds, Rhys Oakley, Josh Davies, Declan Cusack
(capt), Josh Watkins, Toby Howley-Berridge, Ben Woods, Jack Arnott,
Lawrence Rayner. Replacements: Ted Stagg for Cowan-Dickie
28, Ruari Cushion for Davies 59, Tom Jubb for Patrick 69, Jake
Henry for Watkins 71. Not used: Tom Heard, Luke Chapman,
Jersey (1-15): Ignacio Lancuba,
Martin-Garcia-Veiga, Harry Williams, Nick Campbell (YC 25), Pierce
Phillips, Alex Rae (capt), Ryan Hodson, Michael Noone, Sami
Fisilau, Jonny Bentley, Mark McCrea, Lewis Robling, Drew Locke,
Mark Foster, Aaron Penberthy. Replacements: Dave Markham
for Phillips HT, Joe Buckle for Garcia-Veiga 51; Sam Lockwood for
Lancuba 51. Not used: Danny Herriott, Gary Graham, Ryan
Glynn, David Bishop.
Referee: Luke Pearce
18 May 2023
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