Jersey squad for Championship finale22/04/2016
Jersey RFC finish their league season on home soil at St Peter this weekend, seeking to round off 2015/16 on a winning note.
Yorkshire Carnegie, third in the Greene King IPA Championship and heading for the end-of-season play-offs, are the visitors. The sides have met twice already this season: Jersey were in the ascendancy at Headingley on the first weekend of September, leading 13-22 at half-time but then fading to lose 39-22; and sixth months later Carnegie shattered the Reds' dreams of silverware with a 33-32 B&I Cup victory.
The home side shouldn't lack for motivation; as well as avenging the brace of defeats at Carnegie's hands, Jersey will want to nail down fifth spot in the final Championship rankings ahead of their nearest rivals London Welsh, and deliver a winning finish to mark the departure of several players, not to mention Forwards Coach Steve Boden, who has agreed a move to Headingley.
Hopes that Jersey might join Carnegie in the play-offs were extinguished last Saturday when the Islanders delivered a patchy display against Ealing Trailfinders, conceding 21 unanswered points during a woeful first-half before recovering to almost seize a victory, eventually going down 30-24.
Head Coach Harvey Biljon, who called for his side to perform for 80 minutes during game, not 40, in the aftermath of the defeat in London, makes three injury-enforced changes to his starting XV.
In the back-line, Aaron Penberthy comes in at fly-half in place of Brendan Cope to make his second league start of the season in the number 10 shirt; the other changes come in the pack, with Nick Selway coming in at hooker for Joe Buckle, and at number 8 where Uili Kolo'ofa'i is picked in place of Nick Haining. Jersey's back row also features James Freeman, confirmed today as the Greene King IPA Player of the Month for March.
Centre Lewis Robling will make his 50th competitive appearance for Jersey, and alongside him in midfield, Oli Evans will make his final appearance for the Islanders prior to an end-of-season move to Nottingham. Five players on Jersey's bench are also set to say farewell: Martin Garcia-Veiga, Danny Herriott, Dave Markham, Tommy Spinks and Mark Cooke.
Jersey will be led out at St Peter for the last time by Alex Rae, who will step down from his captaincy and playing duties to become the club's new Forwards Coach, replacing the departing Boden. Rae, who has skippered the side for three seasons since moving to the Island in 2013, will run out alongside his six-year-old son Ellis, who is the Reds' mascot for the day.
The home club are expecting a bumper crowd and lively atmosphere for the season finale. In addition to an extra hospitality marquee, there will be touring side ranging from the veterans of Macclesfield to the under 8s of Marlow and Wasps - the youngsters will join their Jersey counterparts in forming the largest guard-of-honour ever seen at St Peter. Attendees will also have the chance to cast their votes for the Supporters' Player of the Year, named in Honour of stalwart supporter Bunny Le Saux.
Jersey squad v Yorkshire Carnegie (H) - Greene King IPA Championship, Saturday April 23rd, St Peter, k-o 3pm
Alex Rae (capt)