Preview & squad for Worcester (H) 21.3.15


Jersey will be looking to stage the rugby equivalent of a FA Cup giant-killing when Worcester Warriors visit the Island this weekend. The home side know the odds are against them, but with extreme tides, a solar eclipse and the Spring Equinox all arriving in the same 24-hour period, they'll hope there may be something in the stars.

Worcester are top of the Greene King IPA Championship and have won 24 consecutive league and cup matches as they seek to bounce straight back to the Aviva Premiership after relegation last May. The visitors will also be cheered on by a travelling army estimated at around 500 supporters, possibly the largest away contingent to follow their team to the Island.

The Warriors have been undefeated since losing their opening league match of the season to promotion rivals Bristol, and have a number of international players, including full-back Chris Pennell, who is the only member of the current Elite England squad playing in the Greene King IPA Championship. But Jersey will be hoping to give their rivals as good a battle as the return fixture in November, when the home side kicked a late penalty to claim a narrow 32-29 win.

The two points garnered by Jersey in defeat at Sixways are among a total of just seven match points given up by the Warriors in the league this season: Bristol claimed four at Ashton Gate on the opening weekend, while there was a consolation prize for Cornish Pirates in January, albeit as part of a 62-26 shellacking.

Head Coach Harvey Biljon has made five changes to his starting line-up from the 18-31 home defeat to London Scottish a fortnight ago. The majority are in the pack, including a new front row unit, made up of Nacho Lancuba, Joe Buckle and Danny Herriott, while Dave Markham replaces Nick Campbell in the second row. There's also a change at centre, with David Bishop coming in for the injured Mark McCrea.

Jersey will be looking for impact from a bench containing the front row players who have been preferred in the majority of games thus far: Sam Lockwood, Martin Garcia-Veiga and Harry Williams.

A familiar face is likely to feature in the opposing midfield: Max Stelling, then 18, joined Jersey on a dual-registration deal in December 2012 which eventually lasted five months, playing 12 games and scoring three tries - now he's a first-team regular for Warriors.

Stelling's last home appearance for Jersey was the nail-biting 13-10 win over Doncaster in April 2013, the result which effectively secured Jersey's Championship survival at the expense of their visitors. The match was watched by a crowd of 3,154, and with drier weather forecast for this weekend, not to mention the travelling hordes, an extra corporate marquee and a Six Nations digestif, the host club hope this weekend's 12-metre tides will coincide with a new high-water mark for their home matches in the Championship.

A video link outlining Jersey's squad can be accessed at

Jersey squad v Worcester Warriors 'H' - Greene King IPA Championship, Saturday March 21st, St Peter - k-o 3pm

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

Forwards (1-8)
Ignacio Lancuba
Joe Buckle
Danny Herriott
Pierce Phillips
Dave Markham
Alex Rae (capt)
Ryan Hodson
Nick Haining

Sam Lockwood
Martin Garcia-Veiga
Harry Williams
Mick Noone
Paula Kaho
Ryan Glynn
Jonny Bentley

Parish Notices

The big crowd expected at St Peter means spectators are urged to buy tickets in advance and allow extra time to get to the ground. Double-deckers will serve the route 9 to the club, with extra services as required, and there should be plentiful car parking as too, albeit with a wee bit of traffic around.
The 6 Nations games will be available on a range of screens (except Brian Screen), with a rousing climax to the day in prospect when England host France at 5pm.

See HERE for further details of match-day at St Peter

Worcester: a potted history

Founded: 1871, when their first game was against the Royal Artillery (see below). The club was subsequently disbanded in 1896, but reformed in 1908

Worcester Warriors

Back in the Day: the club played opposite the New Road ground of Worcestershire County Cricket Club in the 1890s

Ground: Sixways was opened in 1975 by the esteemed Irish international Mike Gibson

Famous Sons: plenty of well-known names, especially during the Premiership years. How about a sample seven? Ben Clarke, Matt Kvesic and Craig Quinnell in the pack; Andy Gomarsall, Ben Gollings (well it is sevens), Rico Gear and Chris Latham as the backs

Jersey Connections: Max Stelling was mentioned above, while at the end of last season physio Julie Snow jumped ship and left the Island for Sixways. Not quite as recently there's John, King of England from 1199-1216: history does not look kindly on the monarch of 800 years ago, mostly because he lost large parts of the Angevin Empire in what is now Northern France. However he did keep hold of the Channel Islands, which have remained linked to the British Crown to this day... if Carlsberg did consolation prizes. Oh, and he's buried in Worcester Cathedral

Director of Rugby: Former Saracens, Wasps, Newcastle and Bristol back row man Dean Ryan was appointed in April 2013, having formerly spent seven seasons in coaching roles at Gloucester

League History: Worcester started in North Midlands League 1, Level 8 of the league pyramid in 1987/88. In 1997 and 1998 successive promotions saw them reach Level 2, and promotion to the Premiership eventually followed in 2004. Relegation in 2010 was followed by promotion back to the top at the earliest opportunity, but last season the Warriors were relegated again after a miserable season that featured just two wins, both at the tail-end of the season.

The Greene King IPA Championship this weekend

Plymouth Albion could move off the bottom of the table with a win on Friday against Yorkshire Carnegie, who have new Boss Bryan Redpath i/c for the first time. Bedford host Cornish Pirates on the same evening.

10th-placed Doncaster travel to play London Scottish on Saturday and will be looking to move towards safety a week after qualifying or the final of the B&I.

The team beaten by Donny in last Saturday's semi, Bristol, will return to Yorkshire to take on Rotherham on Saturday, who are battling with Nottingham for the final Play-Off spot - Notts host Moseley at Lady Bay on Sunday.

The full preview is HERE

And Finally

There's plenty of other rugby this weekend, not least the annual Wilkes Cup match between Jersey Athletic and the Royal Artillery. Spookily, the Gunners are reputed to have been Worcester's first-ever opponents in November 1871. To be played at St Peter at 2pm, there'll be a chance to tuck into some roast cow before the match - details of the eventHERE

England Rugby Twitter LG

Talking of props, England's Dan Cole may only be 27, but already he risks being swept aside by the modern world, alienated from his social-media savvy team-mates by his choice not to have a presence on Twitter. This rather mucked up the England squad announcement (pictured above), when the non-handle 'D.Cole' markedly failed to go viral in the build-up to the Calcutta Cup. Poor old Dinosaur Dan - what happened to the days when props sank pints of Guinness and wrestled large farm animals rather than retweeting the observations of their favourite popstars? One wonders what a great prop of yesteryear like Paul Rendall would have made of it all - one suspects 'The Judge' would have imposed heavy drinking penalties on his 22 team-mates while throwing their i-Phones in the i-Ce bath...

Enjoy your weekend's rugby!

Tom Innes

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