The Reds were in scintillating form at the RAG, especially during the second and final quarters of a comprehensive defeat of hosts Richmond.
Ten tries and five league points showed the Reds’ determination to stay on the trail of leaders Ealing, who had themselves racked up a half-century at the RAG earlier this month. The leaders won 50-12 at home to the Pirates to remain six points clear, although the pursuers from Jersey have a game in hand.
There was an early fillip for the visitors straight from Ben Burnell’s kick-off, with Richmond knocking the ball on and conceding a scrum. The Jersey pack went straight to work, delivering ‘chocolate-box’ possession from the set-piece, and the ball was worked to Jordan Holgate at first receiver, then Burnell and Brendan Owen. The full-back transferred the ball swiftly to Will Brown, who went round Rahul Patel will ease and touched down in the corner with just 68 seconds on the clock.
The remainder of the first quarter was scoreless, with both sides having chances. The hosts came close when Alex O’Meara launched an enormous 65-metre touch-finder to give his side an attacking lineout, but the Reds’ maul defence was up to the job.
Gradually Richmond were put under increasing pressure and after a series of penalties and attacking lineouts hooker Alex Post was sin-binned and his counterpart Eoghan Clarke took advantage from the next play as he steered a maul over the line.
Two tries became three within 40 seconds of the restart with Brown accepting a gift-wrapped interception in midfield and haring to the posts, and the bonus point was secured on the half-hour mark as Burnell marked his first start with a maiden try courtesy of Ben Woollett’s scoring pass.
Clarke went close from another maul before Alun Lawrence followed up for a forwards’ score, and arguably the try of the day came on half-time: another Holgate surge up the left, a pass inside to the supporting Macauley Cook and silky, swift hands from the Welshman to whisk the ball on to Woollett who sprinted home.
The third quarter was largely ‘even-Stevens’, with the Reds going off the boil a little while Richmond threatened at close rane and through a mazy run by lock Jake Monson. At one stage the hosts crossed the try-line but were held up and the Reds were able to clear courtesy of a booming wind-assisted drop-out by Burnell. On other occasions Richmond were able to work good field position and force penalty concessions from their opponents but then made handling errors or were turned over.
Head Coach Rob Webber emptied his bench between the 48th and 59th minutes, and the replacements were to have a significant impact in the final quarter.
First it was lock James Scott who galloped forward 40 metres after a turnover in midfield and then found Russell Bennett in support with a pass off the floor that enabled the replacement fly-half to jink his way over for a first league try for the Reds.
James Hadfield added the eighth try after a well-worked move at the front of a lineout with team-mates Max Argyle, Adam Nicol and Lewis Wynne, and then Hallam Chapman barged over from the back of a scrum.
The final try came from Owen, who took a pass from Brown, following busy approach work by James Mitchell, and made the most of some poor tackling by the hosts. The Richmond defence did redeem itself partially in the dying moments when Alex Burrage brought off a fine tap-tackle on Owen as the full-back looked certain to score his second, and soon afterwards referee Charlie Gayther brought an end to the game.
The Reds will return to action at the Stade on Saturday when they will entertain Nottingham, with kick-off at 3pm.
RICHMOND: O’Meara; Patel (Burrage 65), Kiernan, Duncan, James (Walsh 48); Johnston (c), Lennon (Kerins 48); Cave (Maguire 60), Post (YC 20, Vajner 43), Litchfield (Spring 66), Anstey (Wakeling 66), Monson (Johnson 46), Massey, Brooke, Benson.
JERSEY REDS: Owen B; Woolett (Hutler 48), Powell, Holgate, Brown; Burnell (Bennett 59), Elliott (Mitchell 59); Owen H (Grahamslaw 48), Clarke (Hadfield 48), Longwell (Nicol 48), Everard, Cook (Scott 56), Argyle, Wynne (c), Lawrence (Chapman 56).
REFEREE: Charlie Gayther. Assistants: James Pidding, Simon Harding
Half Time: 0-36
Tries: Brown 2, 23, Clarke 21, Burnell 30, Lawrence 35, Woollett 39, Bennett, 60, Hadfield 66, Chapman 71, Owen B 78.
Conversions: Burnell 23, 35, 40, Bennett 60, 66, 71, 78
18 May 2023
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