Preview & squad for Pirates (A) 3.1.15


Jersey's Head Coach Harvey Biljon returns to his former stomping ground this weekend seeking to get one over on his old club.

The Islanders will take on Cornish Pirates at the Mennaye Field, a ground where Jersey will be seeking their first victory at the fourth attempt.

The visitors' squad for the Greene King IPA Championship clash has been announced, with Biljon's preparations hampered by absences in key positions, notably at hooker following injuries sustained by Martin Garcia-Veiga and Gareth Harris in the pre-Christmas match with Yorkshire Carnegie.

In total there are four changes in personnel to the Jersey starting XV, plus some associated positional switches. Joe Buckle comes in at hooker, while skipper Alex Rae (pictured below) moves forward to second row in place of Pierce Phillips. Paula Kaho switches to blindside flanker and Michael Noone takes up the number 8 role.

Alex Rae Pirates

Among the starting backs, Drew Locke moves from midfield to take Mark McCrea's place on the left wing, with David Bishop coming in at outside centre.

The Jersey bench includes Nick Selway, who provides cover at both hooker and prop, plus fly-half Aaron Penberthy. Penberthy is one of five players in the squad who once played for the Pirates, the other being starting fly-half Jonny Bentley, full-back Grant Pointer, Buckle and Locke.

The two sides have met six times in the past two seasons. Jersey's first-ever Championship match was at home to the Pirates in September 2012, when the Cornish visitors won 6-20, and in the final match of the season Pirates won 28-24 on home soil. [click on scorelines for match reports]

The Pirates completed a B&I Cup double over Jersey last season, while the Islanders gained their only victory so far against the men from Penzance, winning 27-25 in the league match at St Peter thanks to a last-minute penalty by Niall O'Connor. The most recent encounter was a 19-15 win for the home side in muddy conditions at the Mennaye Field in March.

Both sides are among a closely-packed cluster of clubs in the Championship table; Pirates currently lie sixth, with 19 points. Jersey are eighth with one fewer point, while 11th-placed Doncaster have 14 points. Plymouth Albion, beaten 19-27 at home by the Pirates last weekend, remain adrift at the foot of the table with four points after a 55-18 defeat at the hands of leaders Bristol on New Year's Day.

The win at Brickfields two days after Christmas was the Pirates' fourth league victory of the season. Moseley were defeated 29-19 at the Mennaye in late September, and the following weekend the Pirates won 22-24 at Doncaster. There was a stunning result on home soil in November when the Cornish ran in nine tries while thrashing Bedford 65-14.

The Pirates have traditionally shown strongly in the British & Irish Cup, invariably reaching the knock-out stages and lifting the trophy in 2009/10. But this season's campaign was disappointing, with only two wins - against Welsh side Cross Keys - from their six pool matches

Jersey squad v Cornish Pirates 'A' - Greene King IPA Championship, Saturday January 3rd, Mennaye Field - k-o 3pm

Backs (15-9)
Grant Pointer
Mark Foster
David Bishop
Lewis Robling
Drew Locke
Jonny Bentley
Ryan Glynn

Forwards (1-8)
Sam Lockwood
Joe Buckle
Harry Williams
Alex Rae (capt)
Nick Campbell
Paula Kaho
Ryan Hodson
Michael Noone

Nick Selway
Ignacio Lancuba
Danny Herriott
Dave Markham
Joel Dudley
Aaron Penberthy
Ross Jones-Davies

The Greene King IPA Championship this weekend

Two matches from the 10th round of this season's league campaign have already taken place: Worcester went top of the table with their ninth consecutive win, away at Yorkshire Carnegie last Saturday, but on New Year's Day they were replaced by Bristol, who claimed their 10th win on the bounce in front of 10,700 fans against Plymouth at Ashton Gate.

There's a Yorkshire derby at Castle Park on Sunday, live on Sky, with hosts Doncaster looking to return to winning ways against local rivals Rotherham having claimed just one point in their last five league matches. Also on Sunday, Nottingham stage their last match at Meadow Lane before the move to the new ground at their Lady Bay, with third-placed London Scottish the visitors. On Saturday Bedford travel to Moseley. See full preview from earlier in the week HERE

Boden commits to future with Jersey

If you missed the earlier news about our Assistant Coach, see HERE

Happy New Year, and enjoy your weekend's rugby!

Tom Innes

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