Preview to Nottingham (H) 31.1.15


After snapping a two-month losing streak in their most recent outing away to Doncaster, Jersey are looking to largely the same personnel to keep the winning habit going.

The Islanders host fourth-placed Nottingham at St Peter this weekend, and the 22-man squad selected by Head Coach Harvey Biljon shows just two changes from the unit who won 19-26 at Castle Park.

Alex Rae failed a fitness test ahead of the trip to Yorkshire, but Jersey's skipper returns, taking the blindside flanker position ahead of Michael Noone.

The other change is a welcome return for hooker Martin Garcia-Veiga, who has recovered from the injury he sustained in the pre-Christmas match against Yorkshire Carnegie six weeks ago. The Argentine is back in place of Nick Selway, though Joe Buckle retains the starting berth at hooker after demonstrating in recent weeks his ability to switch between back and front rows.

There will be a home debut for new signing Sami Fisilau, the Tongan scrum-half who impressed in his first outing for Jersey against Doncaster.
Jersey registered their best result of the season so far in visiting Nottingham's former home at Meadow Lane in September, from where the Islanders came away with a stunning 12-39 win. The defeat is one of just three sustained by the Green-and-Whites in the Greene King IPA Championship so far, the others inflicted by table-toppers Bristol and Worcester. Martin Haag's side are on a roll, having won five successive league matches.

Jersey lost both their matches against Nottingham in their debut Championship season, thrashed 48-16 at Meadow Lane, and then losing out 13-20 in March in a game that was rearranged after the St Peter surface was deemed unplayable four weeks earlier. (click on the scorelines - and anything else in red you fancy - for match reports or further details)

Burroughs Try

Last season, the Islanders turned the tables, registering two narrow victories: a 19-22 success at Meadow Lane, and a thrilling 17-13 win at St Peter clinched by Jack Burroughs' try (pictured above by Sue Trower) in the last play of the game.

Match referee Andrew Small was at St Peter this morning (Friday) after catching an earlier flight to the Island. A precautionary inspection took place following wet weather during the previous 72 hours. The pitch was passed fit, and the host club were encouraged to note no cause for concern in the weather forecast for the period leading up to kick-off.

MATCH-DAY TRAVEL 'n' PARKING - Spectators are advised that this week's rainfall has led to difficult conditions in the car parking areas at St Peter. Parking will be limited, and access may be challenging for those in two-wheel drive vehicles. Spectators are urged to consider alternative means of getting to the match, by Liberty Bus, taxi, obtaining a lift, bicycle or on foot, or - if driving in their own vehicles is essential/unavoidable - to allow extra time.

Jersey squad v Nottingham 'H' - Greene King IPA Championship, Saturday January 31st, St Peter - k-o 3pm

Backs (15-9)
Grant Pointer
Mark Foster
Drew Locke
Lewis Robling
Mark McCrea
Jonny Bentley
Samisoni Fisilau

Forwards (1-8)
Sam Lockwood
Joe Buckle
Harry Williams
Pierce Phillips
Nick Campbell
Alex Rae (capt)
Ryan Hodson
Nick Haining

Martin Garcia-Veiga
Ignacio Lancuba
Danny Herriott
Dave Markham
Paula Kaho
Ryan Glynn
Aaron Penberthy

Nottingham - a potted history

Formed: 1877

Nottingham rugby

Back in the day: the club were based at Ireland Avenue in Beeston from 1904 until the ground was sold in 2006 [they subsequently played at Meadow Lane, home of Notts County FC, until this month when the move was made to a 'new' ground at their Lady Bay training facility] .

Famous sons: VH Cartwright was Nottingham's first England player, winning 14 caps in the early 1900s; In the 1980s, the club had no less than five England caps: Gareth Rees, Rob Andrew, Brian Moore, Chris 'Swing Low' Oti and Simon Hodgkinson, as well as the Scotland lock Chris Gray. New Zealand lock Ali Williams played a month of rugby with the Green-and-Whites as part of a successful return from injury in early 2011. That's successful as in he won the World Cup 10 months later...

Jersey connections: given the high volume of player movements at this level, surprisingly few. Jersey tighthead Harry Williams played 21 games for Notts last season and was yellow-carded in the closing stages of the match at St Peter last February as the home side pressed for victory.

Silverware: There doesn't look to have been much action in the Green and White trophy cabinet of late, with the exception of the Selkirk Sevens in 1991; the club were runners-up in the National Merit Table in 1985/86 and finished second in the Championship in 2012/13 before losing out to Bedford in the play-offs

League history: Nottingham have spent most of the 27 completed seasons of the league era at level two, now the Greene King IPA Championship - the club first entered this league in the early 90s, and though relegated in 1996/97, they were back after being promoted as runners-up at level three in 2003/04.

The Greene King IPA Championship this weekend

Three other Saturday games see London Scottish seek to consolidate third place with a win - no easy task - at Bedford, while Worcester take on 11th-placed Doncaster at Sixways and Plymouth host Rotherham. Two of the home sides have been in the news this week: Albion announcing they have avoided going into administration, while Worcester received a RFU censure and suspended points deduction for a breach of the regulations concerning GPS tracking devices in players' shirts.

On Sunday Bristol will look to break their Mennaye Field hoodoo, having never won a league match against the Pirates there, while Yorkshire Carnegie host Moseley.

See full GKIPAC preview HERE

And finally

Jersey Athletic have an away Zoo Shield match against Esher on Saturday, an important top-end-of-the-table challenge. The Buccaneers game against Quennevais on Sunday has been cancelled.

Dean Williams

It was announced this week that Macclesfield lock Dean Williams (pictured above) was leaving the club for a playing opportunity in New Zealand. It's not clear whether Williams is the tallest player in British rugby history, at national league level anyway, but he's certainly the tallest to have played at St Peter, when Macc visited Jersey in April 2012. The poor bloke, who stands 7 foot 1 inch tall (that's 16 centimetres and two metres in new money), was bent double trying to get a shower after the game, and apparently Flybe's leg-room was a bit on the cramped side too!

Enjoy your weekend's rugby!

Tom Innes

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