Reds aim to start 2017 on a high30/12/2016
After playing in front of a record crowd in their Boxing Day match at Bedford, Jersey Reds are looking to their home supporters to turn out in numbers for a festive fixture on the Island. Old rivals Ealing Trailfinders are the New Year's Day visitors for the Greene King IPA Championship at St Peter, which kicks off at 2pm.
With no public transport on the Island on New Year's Day, the Reds have arranged coaches to help supporters make it to the game on time, and there's also an option to book places for a buffet lunch in the clubhouse.
The two clubs competing in the Hogmanay showdown are part of a congested section of the Championship table, where just nine points separate third-placed Ealing and Rotherham in 10th, with the Reds in the middle of the cluster, placed seventh as 2017 starts.
The Reds completed 2016 with a thrilling, but ultimately disappointing encounter against Bedford Blues at Goldington Road in front of the highest crowd in the Championship this season - 4,621 was also the home club's largest attendance since level two was reconstituted in 2009.
The Boxing Day battle was a ding-dong encounter in which the lead changed hands a dozen times, the final occasion in the last play of the match when a converted try gave Blues a 39-37 win, leaving the Reds holding the unwanted consolation prize of a brace of bonus points.
For the return to their home ground, the Reds' squad sees just two changes from the line-up at Bedford. At scrum-half, Kieran Hardy will start with Sami Fisilau switching to the bench, while tight-head prop Simon Kerrod comes into the starting XV, with Mark Tampin among the replacements.
Having tracked each other's upward progress in the league ladder during the 'noughties', the two sides first met in 2010 and have been in the same league for five of the last seven seasons. Jersey won three of the duo's four National League encounters from 2010-12, but the Londoners have had the better of it at Championship level, with four wins from five games.
Three of the Reds' defeats have come at Trailfinders' home patch at Vallis Way, W13, including a 20-15 defeat in September sealed by a 78th-minute try by James Cordy-Redden. Jersey's only Championship win was the 35-7 success at St Peter in November 2015.
With kick-off at 2pm, the specially-chartered rugby buses will leave Liberation Station in St Helier at 20-minute intervals from 11.30am to 1.30pm, returning regularly from the final whistle at approximately 3.45pm until 6.15pm and calling at La Haule on request. The fare is £2 single, payable at St Peter on arrival and prior to departure. Full information and details of the pre-match lunch are available HERE
Jersey's players will have some time off following the New Year's Day match before returning to training ahead of their final two pool matches in this season's British & Irish Cup - the trip to Merthyr to take on the Cardiff Blues Select XV on Saturday January 14th, and the following weekend when Ulster 'A' travel to the Island - kick-off at St Peter will be at 2pm on Saturday January 21st.
Ealing's line-up for the trip to Jersey can be seen at http://ealingtrailfinders1stxv.com/news/murphy-and-maddison-set-for-first-starts
Jersey Reds squad v Ealing Trailfinders (H) - Greene King IPA Championship, Round 13, New Year's Day Sunday January 1st, St Peter; k-o 2pm
James Freeman (capt)
Jack Macfarlane, Sean McCarthy, Mark Tampin, Uili Kolo'ofa'i, Max Argyle; Sami Fisilau, Joel Dudley.