Jersey followed the great win at London Scottish at the start of November with another superb result on the road, this time at Clifton Lane in Rotherham.
If anything this was an even better result, with the Islanders pushing on in the second half to score a fourth try – a rolling maul finished by talismanic skipper Alex Rae – which guaranteed the win and earned a bonus point.
Rae’s try was in fact the only score of the second half, during which time Jersey were playing into a stiff wind but were able to stifle any attempts by their opponents to force their way back into the game. A period of sustained pressure from the home side soon after half-time was repelled, and the remainder of the game was more comfortable from the perspective of the men in red.
The visitors made good use of the windy conditions in the first half and scored first with a slick first-phase manoeuvre that saw Ross Adair join the line and finish after taking an inside scoring pass from Brendan Cope.
The Titans hit back with a penalty, but then Jersey struck again – the second try came from a towering up-and-under kick by Aaron Penberthy that was carried by the wind and struck a home player on the head, deflecting back towards the try-line. Tua Otto was first to react, racing forward to pick up and score. Aaron Penberthy, who had stepped up to kicking duties after a couple of early misses by Cope, slotted the conversion and also a penalty to make it 15-3.
The penalty Jersey registered was for a scrum offence – this was a phase of the game that was dominated by the visitors throughout, with outstanding shifts by props Oli Tomaszczyk and Sam Lockwood plus hooker Martin Garcia-Veiga.
Although some scoring chances weren’t converted – including two audacious attempts from Penberthy inside his own half – Jersey grabbed a third try from a Titans’ error. Trying to run the ball within their own half, the ball went to ground and was hacked forward by Otto. Jersey’s threequarters raced through and the second kick – by Tom Howe – was perfectly judged to land the ball just over the goal-line, after which it just needed some pace – no problem there – to race through and touch down.
The 16-point half-time margin – after a second Roth penalty completed the first half – was a point more than at the Athletic Ground three weeks earlier, and just as in that game, the visitors were kept scoreless in the second period. To begin with this involved some stirling Jersey defence, but after this the plan was a more ambitious one and brought the fourth try that iced the cake.
There was no let-up in intensity in the closing stages, with good contributions from the Jersey replacements – in the end it was a comprehensive margin of victory, and a well-earned five points.
Harvey Biljon paid tribute to the efforts of his whole squad in training this week in setting the platform for the win.
“It has been an impressive week, culminating in the result today,” he said. “Our intention was to focus on defence, discipline and bringing some real energy to our game and that’s what the boys delivered.”
Biljon paid tribute to the impressive work of the forwards, excellent defence from 1-22 and the stirling captaincy of Alex Rae, who was constantly cajolling his players and acting as an effective point-of-contact with match officials.
Titans’ Head Coach Mark Jones conceded that his side were inferior in every department.
“Losing is one thing, but today we were schooled by Jersey and that’s tough to take and will leave a lot of questions to ask, including for me. We were taught things by Jersey today that I hope we will use to good effect in future matches.”
Jersey moved up a place in the Greene King IPA Championship table after Saturday’s results, which also included a 34-11 BP win for Doncaster at home to Moseley and a 34-22 win for Nottingham over Ealing at Lady Bay (both sides scored four tries).
Titans: Scanlon, Rath, Hayes, Barker, Wilson, Jones (Goodwin 70), Davies White 62); Hislop (Cromie 53 – YC 73), Maddison C, Thiede (Tampin 46), Holmes (capt) (Salmon 57), Maddison B, Calladine, Birch (Oram 53), Argyle. Not used: Crane
Jersey: Penberthy, Howe, Otto (McCrea 68), Robling, Adair, Cope, Fisilau (Moates 62); Lockwood (Lancuba 60), Garcia-Veiga (Selway 55), Tomaszczyk (Herriott 48), Rowlands, Phillips (Kolo’ofa’i 65), Rae (c), Graham (Freeman 63), Haining.
REFEREE: John Meredith (RFU)
Half Time: 6-22
Penalties: Jones 12, 40
Tries: Adair 6, Otto 19, Howe 34, Rae 55
Conversions: Penberthy 19, 34
Penalty: Penberthy 27