Preview & squad for Pirates (H) 11.4.15


Jersey head into the final stretch of the season this weekend looking for a strong finish to 2014/15.

The Islanders may be set for a mid-table finish in the league rankings - this would be the club's first since 2001/02 - but there is still a huge amount to play for as Cornish Pirates arrive for Saturday's Greene King IPA Championship encounter.

The home side will be looking to back up the tremendous win over high-flying Worcester in their most recent outing at St Peter. The 23-21 triumph boosted a patchy record for Jersey in their own back yard, and the aim is to round off the current campaign in style and secure the highest-possible league finish with home wins over Pirates and Moseley.

Cornish Pirates

Rivalry between the Islanders and the visitors from Penzance is strong - Jersey have a number of former Pirates among their playing ranks and also recruited Head Coach Harvey Biljon from the coaching team at the Mennaye Field 16 months ago.

Two ex-Pirates, Ben Maidment and Grant Pointer, are injured and will miss the game, but Biljon still has four players in his squad who formerly played for the Cornish side: Drew Locke, Aaron Penberthy Joe Buckle and Jonny Bentley.

Locke and Penberthy are among a starting back division that is unchanged from Jersey's previous outing, a 16-12 defeat at Headingley against Yorkshire Carnegie. However there are changes up front: Martin Garcia-Veiga comes back in at hooker for Buckle, who switches to his alternative position in the back row, with Ryan Hodson and Nick Haining missing out through injury. Paula Kaho will play at number 8, while Nick Campbell is back in Dave Markham's stead at lock.

Markham is one of the players on Jersey's bench, where Nick Selway provides cover at both prop and hooker, alongside fellow props Ignacio Lancuba and Danny Herriott. Ryan Glynn, David Bishop and Bentley complete the bench, covering the back-line.

As well as the links between the clubs, Jersey have the additional motivation of improving a poor record against the Pirates. The two sides met in Jersey's first-ever Championship match, the Islanders losing 6-20 at St Peter in September, and have suffered four further defeats since then in league and cup.

Jersey's only success over the Pirates was the 27-25 win in November 2013. Tries by Mark McCrea and Joe Buckle gave the home side a platform, but they trailed until a 77th minute try by Tom Brown provided hope. The deficit was still three points, but Niall O'Connor kicked a conversion to narrow it and then added a 45-metre penalty at the death.

The two sides met at the Mennaye Field on the opening weekend of 2015. Jersey led 11-12 at the break after a dogged first-half effort, but once again a half-time lead slipped and 19 unanswered points meant the final result was one of Jersey's most disappointing of the season - a 30-12 reverse.

Jersey squad v Cornish Pirates 'H' - Greene King IPA Championship, Saturday April 11th, St Peter - k-o 2.30pm

Backs (15-9)
Aaron Penberthy
Mark Foster
Drew Locke
Mark McCrea
Fautua Otto
Lewis Robling
Samisoni Fisilau

Forwards (1-8)
Sam Lockwood
Martin Garcia-Veiga
Harry Williams
Pierce Phillips
Nick Campbell
Alex Rae (capt)
Joe Buckle
Paula Kaho

Ignacio Lancuba
Nick Selway
Danny Herriott
Dave Markham
Ryan Glynn
Jonny Bentley
David Bishop

The Greene King IPA Championship this weekend

It's possible the relegation battle could be decided: should Plymouth lose at home to leaders Bristol, Moseley could seal their survival with a win at Bedford. But otherwise the two sides are set for a crunch encounter at Billesley next weekend.

Another deal to be sealed would be London Scottish's place in the Play-Offs, if they can defeat Nottingham at the RAG. This result would give Rotherham the chance of consolidating fourth place if they can beat Doncaster at Clifton Lane. It's not just local rivalry that's at stake - the Yorkshire Regiment Trophy will be at stake: Rotherham currently have 13 points in the county 'mini-league' ahead of their visitors' 10 (Yorkshire Carnegie trail in third place). It could also be the Titans' last-ever match at Clifton Lane given current wrangling over the future of their lease and volatile relationship with their cricket club neighbours.

Worcester host Carnegie in the final match of the round, which sees all games kicking off at 3pm, other than Jersey v Pirates, brought forward to 2.30pm to accommodate the visitors' original travel plans.

See HERE for full preview

Supporters' Player of the Year

All JRFC supporters will have the chance to have their say in a new award for this season, the Supporters' Player of the Year.

Voting slips will be available at the Club Shop from 1pm on Saturday April 11th, ahead of the Cornish Pirates game, and voting will close on at 5pm on Saturday April 25th, after the Moseley game. Votes can be cast on either match-day, or in between the two games when the shop is open.

Supporters are permitted one vote per person for the player they think has made the biggest contribution to the 1st XV season, and all those who vote will be entered into a prize draw to win selected items of JRFC merchandise. These prizes, and the 'SPOTY' trophy itself, will be presented at the Awards Evening on April 25th

And Finally

There's no rugby for Jersey Athletic this weekend as the team prepare for their last two away trips, to Cinderford and Richmond over the next two weeks. But Jersey Buccaneers will take on Banks at Grainville on Saturday morning at 11am.

Ben And Steve

He may not be as large in stature as during his playing days, but the large-as-ever character of Ben Evans returned to Jersey this week. The former Welsh international prop, who spent 18 months on the Island as a player and coach, is set to marry his fiancée Liz at St Brelade's Bay this afternoon (Friday) with a substantial number of family and friends over for the occasion. We hope they have a great day.

Enjoy your weekend's rugby!
Tom Innes

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