There’s no stopping Jersey Reds, who have now won their last 10 games to equal a club record since reaching level 2 status in 2012. Many of these victories have been by significant margins, including Saturday’s win over Richmond.
The win at the Athletic Ground also made it four in a row in the Championship Cup, and the Reds will want to set a new mark for their best winning streak, not to mention cementing a home quarter-final, when they host Ealing Trailfinders this Saturday.
Richmond had selected a squad much closer to their likely first-choice line-up, with 13 changes to the starting XV from the previous weekend’s trip to Jersey. They proved tougher opponents for most of the first half, in spite of conceding nine penalties in the first 40 – a dangerous ‘tactic’ given the strength of the Reds’ maul.
After scoring four tries from attacking lineouts last week, hooker Jack Macfarlane was at it again within three minutes, and matters got worse for the hosts when their influential second row Will Warden limped off a few minutes later.
But the home side were robust in defence, and also showed glimpses in attack, with one notable tackle by Auguy Slowik stopping a dangerous run by Richmond wing Jono Woodward.
Not only was the penalty count showing a strong leaning against the home side, but Richmond also coughed up several lineouts, whereas Macfarlane and his colleagues in the Jersey pack maintained a flawless record at approximately 13 lineouts until one ball was eventually lost just before Macfarlane was replaced by Nick Selway on the hour.
Another attacking lineout led to the next visiting score just before the half-hour. Referee Adam Leal – fully recovered from an accidental clash of heads with a Richmond player – awarded a penalty try when Jersey’s maul was sacked – the first PT for the Reds this season. The home side had been warned about repeated infringement, so it was no surprise to see prop Craig Trenier banished for a 10-minute breather at the same time.
Looking to capitalise on having an extra man, the Reds repelled a Richmond attack with a well-won turnover, and soon afterwards the third try was executed when Auguy Slowik caught a box-kick and sliced through midfield. Mark Best had only a split-second to deal with Slowik’s pass before being clattered, but that proved enough for him to pat the ball deftly across to Brett Herron, who had the pace to finish from 30 metres out.
The Reds’ least distinguished spell of the game came soon after the restart, when they would hope to have scored again to put the result beyond doubt. There was flashes of potential, including another Slowik-inspired attack that saw Leroy Van Dam find Calum Waters; the try-line beckoned, but Jamie Gibbs pulled off a tremendous try-saving tackle in the corner.
Otherwise the Reds temporarily fell short of their recent high standards and were jolted when the home side struck back just before the hour. A rolling maul provided the platform, and when the ball was worked wide with e penalty advantage being played, Cam Hudson jinked through and popped the ball to Lewis Dennett for the try.
When Herron’s restart went straight into touch, it looked like the last quarter might be a struggle for the visitors, but in fact there was scarcely another error during the remainder of the game, while Richmond’s occasional attacking threats were nullified by committed and well-organised Jersey defence.
Selway maintained previous accurate lineout work from the oche on halfway, and as the ball was worked wide, Slowik again proved too hot to handle for the Richmond midfield, leaving recently-arrived sub Will Homer to canter over from Slowik’s pass.
The home side had been far more competitive than was the case in the previous weekend’s cup tie, but the scoreboard didn’t reflect this thanks to two more tries from the rampant Reds. Van Dam leapt to intercept a pass near his own try-line and raced more than 90 metres down the touch-line to score, and then in the dying moments Slowik claimed a deserved score for himself after good work from Van Dam, Best and Herron after a Richmond attack had been snuffed out. The tries brought warm applause from away supporters, who made up a significant proportion of the official attendance of 342.
The visitors were all smiles as they left the field for a quick turn-around ahead of an evening return from Gatwick to the Island, albeit that attention was already switching to a potentially decisive encounter with Ealing on home turf this Saturday; the Reds’ last home game of 2018 should be one to savour.
Will Goodrick-Clarke, Ross Grimstone, Craig Trenier (YC 28), Charlie Lenygon, Will Warden, Jesse Liston, Toby Saysell, Jake Parker; Luc Jones, Ben Cook; Marcus Webber, Cam Hudson, Cam Mitchell (capt), Jono Woodward; Rob Kirby.
Replacements: Ed Milne (for Warden, 9 mins), Jamie Gibbs (Woodward h-t), Lewis Dennett (Mitchell h-t), Max Davies (Lenygon 50), Rupert Freestone (Grimstone 60), Dave Spelman (Trenier 69), Tim Walford (Goodrick-Clarke 71)
Jersey Reds (1-15)
Roy Godfrey (capt), Jack Macfarlane, Leeroy Atalifo, Jerry Sexton, Charlie Beckett, Max Argyle, Rory Bartle, Kyle Hatherell; Calum Waters, Brett Herron; Leroy Van Dam, Mark Best, James Newey, Jack Stapley; Auguy Slowik.
Replacements: Sam Rodman (for Atalifo, 48 mins), Will Homer (Waters 48), Jake Upfield (Bartle 54), Apakuki Ma’afu (Newey 59), Nick Selway (Macfarlane 62), Harry Morley (Godfrey 68), Adam Batt (Beckett 71)
REFEREE: Adam Leal. Assistants: Lionel Spooner, Gregory Garner
Half Time: 0-21
Try: Dennett 57
Conversion: Kirby 57
Tries: Macfarlane 3, Penalty try 28, Herron 34, Homer 64, Van Dam 71, Slowik 78
Conversions: Herron 3, 34, 64