Rosslyn Park 9 Jersey 24
By Tom Innes
In spite of bringing little to the party in the first half,
struggling to stay in touch with a dominant Rosslyn Park team,
Jersey rallied magnificently to claim a second successive away win
The hosts claimed the majority stake in both territory and
possession in the first period, but handling errors and some cussed
Jersey defence meant they were unable to press home this advantage
with a try, and could only land two penalty goals from five
attempts. The six points gained were cancelled out by two enormous
strikes from within his own half by Jersey's Mike Le Bourgeois,
leaving the teams locked together at the break.
Jersey's only specialist back replacement, Tommy Turner, was in
action early after Ross Broadfoot limped off, and prop Ben Evans
spent 10 minutes on the sidelines at the end of the half after a
yellow card for preventing quick ball.
The turn-around after half-time began immediately with the
visitors going onto the front foot and surging forward. Ben Harvey
waited just five minutes before sending on three further subs -
James Ellershaw, Guy Thompson and Nick Trower - with Miles Landick,
Steve O'Brien and Kingsley Lang making way.
Park did edge ahead with a penalty after 49 minutes but then
lost flanker Jonny Barrett to the sin bin for preventing quick
ball. During his absence Le Bourgeois levelled the scores at 9-9
with his third penalty, and with 12 minutes to go the full-back
nudged Jersey in front with another well-struck effort.
In the closing minutes an injury to Ashley Maggs meant Graham
Bell was introduced and the team reshuffled, with Glenn Bryce
moving to centre and Thompson to the left wing. A key moment came
when the flanker was isolated deep in his 22 and forced to field an
awkwardly-bouncing kick. Surrounded by opposition players, Thompson
seemed certain to be forced to ground, bringing a penalty or loss
of possession, but in fact he showed great strength and awareness
in staying on his feet for crucial seconds before support arrived
and the danger passed.
What might have been 12-12 was soon 9-19 as Jersey
counter-attacked thrillingly from one end to the other. Nathan
Hannay and James Copsey combined in 'Little & Large' fashion
for a charge to the line but were unable to finish, however quick
ball was fed right and Le Bourgeois crossed, and converted.
With two minutes to go and a 10-point deficit, Park opted to
kick for goal in the hope of securing a losing bonus point, at the
least, and perhaps an unlikely draw. But the kick drifted wide and
with it the home team's hopes, to the frustration of the majority
in a crowd of around 500.
With Priory Lane's digital clock having ticked down to zero,
visiting fans called for the ball to be kicked off the park.
Instead, in a show of positive intent and knowing that they were
clear of danger, Jersey mounted a final attack, which left the
hosts' short of numbers, allowing skipper Paul Rodgers to score his
team's second try.
23 Mar 2023
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