Rotherham Titans 54
Report by Tom Innes,
published courtesy of the JEP
Jersey’s winless start to life in the Championship continued as
a series of errors were ruthlessly punished by a streetwise Titans
With one point – earned late in the game for scoring four tries
– out of a possible 20 in their debut season at this level,
Jersey’s Championship cup is certainly less than half-full, but
nevertheless there remain signs for optimism.
The Island forwards held their own against a Rotherham team
renowned for having one of the league’s most formidable packs, and
there was plenty of zest in attack throughout the Jersey ranks. But
the high error count, and the continued concession of penalties,
especially in the first half, were the crucial factors in deciding
the outcome at Clifton Lane.
The home side started creakily, losing their opening lineout and
allowing Jersey an early shot at goal when a penalty was reversed.
Michael Le Bourgeois pushed his effort to the right of goal for
what turned out to be the only miss of 16 attempts at the posts
through the afternoon by both sides.
Titans’ skipper Garry Law soon had a chance of his own, nailing
a 45-metre effort when Jersey were penalised for failing to roll
away. The lead was stretched almost immediately from first-phase
lineout Eamonn Sheridan launched a meaty run through the heart of
Jersey’s midfield to the posts.
The visitors needed a foothold in the game; this arrived within
two minutes when Rotherham launched an attack near their goal-line
that was as ill-advised as it was poorly executed: Dai Bishop
plucked the easiest interception you’ll see, strolled three or four
paces and dotted down for the try.
The game continued at a serious intensity, with no quarter given
between the forwards and a fair amount of kicking exchanges that
gave new recruit Barry Davies a chance to show his skills. But when
one Titans’ kick went towards the touch-line it was Dave McCormack
who was the player covering, and the scrum-half was embarrassed by
a wicked bounce, knocking the ball into opposition hands and
allowing Carl Kirwan to charge to the line. The replacement had
only just joined the fray following the departure of ex-Jersey
player Latu Makaafi with a broken collarbone.
With Law and Le Bourgeois swapping penalties – Jersey’s for a
late hit on Davies – a score of 20-10 didn’t seem too bad for the
visitors as half-time approached, but by the time the whistle blew
Titans had added 14 more points. Powerhouse centre Pale Nonu
steamed through for his side’s third try, then flanker Alex Rieder
also broke through, passed Davies with ease and sealed a bonus
Visiting supporters must have been fearful of witnessing a score
more suited to Clifton Lane’s summer use as home of Rotherham
Cricket Club, but were heartened by a superb spell of Jersey
pressure in the third quarter. The Islanders camped in the Titans’
half, earning a series of penalties and having the conviction to
opt for scrums against the home pack. These could have led to
points but for a knock-on at the base of the scrum from Fred
Silcock, but the pressure wasn’t cleared and Rieder earned a yellow
card for a cynical attempt to prevent quick ball.
It may have taken 16 minutes from the restart, but the try
Jersey deserved eventually came when Nathan Hannay forced his way
over. The try at least gave Titans a chance to resume the game in
Jersey territory, and Law immediately went close but for a
last-ditch tackle, before scoring from a floated cross-field pass
that exposed a shortage of red-shirted defenders.
The game’s high tempo continued with further attacking from the
visitors. McCormack’s sublime flipped pass to Hannay helped the
Jersey skipper make ground into the home 22 and the ball was
quickly fed wide via Le Bourgeois to Glenn Bryce for a try in the
Law took advantage of another penalty chance to stretch the lead
but Jersey continued to do most of the attacking. Le Bourgeois made
a good break, then replacement Ashley Maggs charged through from a
A Rotherham counter-attack was halted by an outstanding covering
tackle from Hannay – more flanker than lock on this occasion – on
scrum-half Jimmy Williams. An inability to hold the ball in contact
was a feature of Jersey’s play, and when Nonu pilfered the ball
from Maggs’ grasp in an all-embracing tackle, Michael Doneghan
became the second Rotherham replacement to get on the
Jersey’s commitment in the second half deserved some reward, and
this came with two minutes left with a breathtaking move almost the
length of the field. Hannay played his part with substitutes Dave
Felton and Kingsley Lang, the latter rampaging 40 metres close to
the posts, and receiving sufficient quick support for the ball to
be fed wide to Dai Bishop to waltz over for the bonus point
The final act of the match saw Law take his 10th shot at goal.
It was the first that was off-centre, but nevertheless dropped over
via the upright to maintain his flawless record from the tee and
complete a high-scoring encounter.
Jersey squad, sponsored by Locate
Jersey and jersey.com
Richard Barrington, Steve Boden (Dave
Felton 65), Ben Evans (Sean McCarthy 74), Nathan Hannay (capt), Rob
Anderson (Dave Markham 67), Talite Vaoileti (Kingsley Lang 51), Guy
Thompson (Nick Trower 67), Fred Silcock; Dave McCormack (Brendan
O’Brien 75), Mike Le Bourgeois, Glenn Bryce, Donovan Sanders
(Ashley Maggs 55), Dai Bishop, Ed Tellwright, Barry Davies.
Sheridan 12, Kirwan 27, Nonu 37, Rieder 40, Law 61, Doneghan 74
12, 27, 37, 40, 61, 74
Law 10, 20, 67, 80
Bishop 14, 79, Hannay 56, Bryce 64
Bourgeois 14, 56, 64, 79