Reds expecting Carnegie backlash23/02/2017
Jersey Reds take on promotion contenders Yorkshire Carnegie under the Friday Night Lights, wary that they are likely to be squaring up to a wounded animal.
Carnegie suffered a shock reverse at the hands of Cornish Pirates last Saturday, and to make matters worse the 27-42 loss occurred on home turf, without even a bonus point to sweeten the pill. It was only the second league defeat in 14 outings for the Leeds-based club this season, the first having occurred on Bonfire Night against table-topping London Irish.
While the visitors will want to return to winning ways, the home side will have their own motivating factors: it's the first league match at St Peter for eight weeks, and a play-off berth remains a realistic ambition for the team who are currently sixth; the Reds also want to bring an end to a nine-game losing streak against Carnegie that stretches back to December 2012.
Jersey registered an impressive win at London Scottish last weekend, dominating the first period to wrap up a try bonus point before half-time and then withstanding a determined comeback by the Exiles to eventually win 33-37.
Head Coach Harvey Biljon has made three changes to his starting XV. One is among the forwards, with loose-head prop Sean McCarthy getting the start and Jake Woolmore reverting to an otherwise unchanged bench.
The other adjustments are in the back three, with Jack Cuthbert taking the place of Sam Katz at full-back and Ross Adair selected at wing ahead of George Watkins.
"There's been some real competition for places this week, which contrasts with the position we've been in for much of this season," Biljon said. "That's led to some difficult decisions, but I've selected a squad which I believe is best-suited for a really important match."
The home club are looking for a bumper home crowd to boost their chances of success against a travelling party that includes one former comrade, with Steve Boden making his first return to the Island after being appointed as Carnegie's Forwards Coach at the end of last season.
The two sides locked horns at Headingley in October, when the Reds went down to a gallant defeat, claiming a brace of losing bonus points in a game that featured nine tries and finished 35-29.
The fourth 'Friday Night Lights' match of the season will feature a new facility, with the supporters marquee switching to a new pitchside location.
Car parking at St Peter will be restricted due to the unavailability of pitch 2 following recent adverse weather. Although the remaining parking areas will be in use, supporters are asked to allow extra time for their journeys, and to consider alternative means of getting to St Peter where possible.
Jersey Reds squad v Yorkshire Carnegie (H) - Greene King IPA Championship, Friday February 24th, St Peter; k-o 7.45pm
James Freeman (capt)
Jack Macfarlane, Jake Woolmore, Jake Armstrong, Uili Kolo'ofa'i, Max Argyle; Joel Dudley, Lewis Robling.