Jersey squad for Cup trip to Wales12/12/2014
Jersey look for B&I boost prior to
crucial 'Christmas cracker' clash
Barring a freak sequence of results, Jersey will bow out of this season's British & Irish Cup this Saturday after the away clash with Carmarthen Quins.
The Islanders would need an early Yuletide miracle to seize the eighth and final spot in the B&I knock-out stages, but will nevertheless be looking for a good result on what is only Jersey's second-ever trip to Wales for a competitive match. A win against the team from the Scarlets' region would seal second place in Pool 5 and set Jersey up nicely for a crucial Greene King IPA Championship 'Christmas cracker' clash with Yorkshire Carnegie on home soil the following weekend.
The Quins visited St Peter in October on the opening weekend of the B&I and were in contention at 17-10 down early in the second half, before the Channel Island hosts pulled clear to register a 37-17 win (click score for match report). Since then, the two sides have jostled for supremacy in Pool 5 with Cup holders Leinster 'A', but the Irishmen have now pulled away and are certain to win the group, regardless of the result of their home game against Plymouth Albion this weekend.
Jersey's previous fixture in Wales in January 2013 fell foul of the weather, when Pontypridd's Sardis Road ground was buried under deep snow (pictured above). The game was eventually played in April of that year, with an inexperienced Jersey side going down 48-17 while many of their team-mates focused on a must-win relegation decider against Doncaster the following weekend; the Islanders edged the Knights 13-10 to book another season of Championship - and B&I - rugby.
This Saturday's match will be hosted at Llandovery RFC's home ground in Church Bank. The 'Drovers' actually lost to local rivals Quins in the B&I play-offs in September, but are nevertheless hosting a Carmarthen 'home' tie after it was decided that the Scarlets' region would provide auxiliary players to bolster the Quins' B&I squad.
Jersey's Head Coach Harvey Biljon has chosen an interesting mix of personnel for Saturday's game. The selected pack has just three players who started the game against Leinster last weekend, which Jersey lost 20-21: prop Nacho Lancuba, flanker Ryan Hodson and skipper Alex Rae, who switches from lock to blindside flanker. Prop Harry Williams and lock Pierce Phillips are welcome returnees after injury; Phillips will be partnered in the second row by Dave Markham, who scored two tries against Carmarthen (pictured below). The most notable selection is a first opportunity at hooker for Joe Buckle, who has previously played most of his rugby in the back row.
Among the starting backs, just fly-half Aaron Penberthy and full-back Ross Jones-Davies retain their shirts. Penberthy's half-back partner will be Joel Dudley, while the three-quarter unit is all-new: Tobias Hoskins and David Bishop in midfield; Ed Dawson and Jack Burroughs on the wings.
Jersey's bench includes prop Myles Landick, set to return to first team action after a lengthy injury break. Landick and Dudley are the only survivors from the Jersey squad who travelled to Ponty in 2013.
Preview to the other B&I games this weekend - see HERE
And don't forget Jersey Athletic home to Cinderford tomorrow in Shield match KO at St Peter is 12noon.
Jersey squad v Carmarthen Quins 'A' - British & Irish Cup, Pool 5, Saturday December 13th, Church Bank, Llandovery - k-o 2pm
Alex Rae (capt)