Under sunny Yorkshire skies, Jersey put in a really good all-round performance against one of the league’s heavyweights, and were frustrated to come away with nothing to show for their endeavours.
The opening minutes saw a few exchanges of high ball kicking tactics as the both sides looked to settle, not wanting to give anything away and both looking to see who would make the first move.
The opening score came courtesy of a long-range penalty by Harry Leonard after 9 minutes when Jersey were penalised at the scrum.
It was Jersey’s turn next to take advantage of a penalty situation midway in the Carnegie half. With the Jersey forwards looking to exert pressure, it was Nick Haining who was to pick and go from the back of a ruck and force his way over for the opening try. Brendan Cope missed the conversion, but the Reds had a slender 3-5 lead.
Yorkshire Carnegie seized back the advantage with Leonard’s second penalty attempt, taken from a similar position to the first, but the lead wasn’t to last long.
Perhaps the turning point of the first half was on 25 minutes when summer-signing Dean Schofield saw yellow for foul play. With a man down, Jersey were quick to take the initiative. A missed-touch clearance kick by Leonard was pounced on by Jersey who moved the ball through the hands and on to back row player, James Freeman. He powered forward before releasing scrum-half, Jack Moates who crossed to score under the posts. Cope added the extras and Jersey had their noses in front 6-12.
Jersey’s third score was arguably the most exciting. Another error by Yorkshire Carnegie saw them spill the ball on the half-way line when they were on a break from deep of their own. Moates retrieved the ball and passed the ball quickly to Fautua Otto who rounded three defenders before off-loading to Freeman who crossed for the touch-down. Cope again converted as Jersey made the most of the extra man to extend the advantage to 6-19.
Back to full strength, the hosts then reduced the deficit with a converted try from a rolling maul – 13-19.
In a game that was ebbing and flowing with possession and pressure from both sides, it was Jersey’s turn next as the clock ticked towards half time. A penalty led to a kick to the corner and another Jersey line-out. The ball was taken cleanly and moved out wide, and whilst Carnegie again infringed Jersey could so easily have scored their fourth of the afternoon but the final pass didn’t stick. Coming back for the penalty, and with only seconds remaining until half-time, Cope opted for the posts and duly extended the lead to 13-22, and that was how it was at the interval.
Yorkshire Carnegie had again been reduced to 14 players before the break, and Jersey came out for the second period looking to press home the advantage.
A decisive moment came on 50 minutes when Jersey looked to be heading for a certain score from a driving maul that was pulled down. No advantage was given to the Channel Islanders and that was as close they were to come to scoring in the second half.
As the half went on, Yorkshire Carnegie slowly improved and started to capitalise on all opportunities. The first of their four second-half tries came after 57 minutes from a driving maul that was superbly converted from the touch-line to make it 20-22.
Jersey were then reduced to 14 when Gary Graham was shown a yellow card for dangerous play in a tackle. In a reversal of the opportunity in the first half, the Yorkshiremen were to take full advantage. Another driving maul saw Mike Myerscough stretch out and score a converted try to put the hosts back in front by 27-22.
With time running out, Carnegie scored another forwards try that went unconverted, and then in added-on time they were to score a fifth. Jersey’s restart went long, and from the scrum on the centre-spot the hosts moved the ball quickly. Neat interplay eventually saw the ball passed out to new-signing Tom Ryder who scored. Leonard added the conversion, the final whistle blew and the hosts were the ones smiling and relieved.
Club Chairman, Bill Dempsey said, “The fact that we competed so well for so long is a huge testament to the boys. Yorkshire Carnegie possibly have the biggest, most physical pack in the league, and their squad boasts over 500 premiership caps. Of course its disappointing having got ourselves into a good position at half time, and if we’d have scored the rolling maul on 50 minutes it could easily have been a different story. But take nothing away from Carnegie, they’re a very good side and they clearly mean business this season.”
Report by: William Church
Yorkshire Carnegie: Georgiou, Holmes, Lucock, Fitzpatrick, Stegman, Leonard, Pilgrim; Beech, Nilsen, O’Donnell, Schofield, Jones (c), Myerscough, Saull, Burrows.
Replacements: Walker J, Imiolek, Tideswell, Ryder, Walker C, Forsyth, Doherty.
Jersey: Lane, Howe, Otto, Robling, McCrea, Cope, Moates; McCarthy, Selway, Featherstone, Campbell, Phillips, Rae (c), Freeman, Haining.
Replacements: Lancuba, Garcia-Veiga, Herriott, Markham, Graham, Dudley, Adair.
REFEREE: Andrew Jackson
Tries: Beech, Walker C (2), Myerscough, Ryder
Conversions: Leonard (4)
Penalties: Leonard (2)
Tries: Haining, Moates, Freeman
Conversions: Cope (2)