Reds aim for strong start to 201826/01/2018
Jersey Reds take on old rivals Richmond this weekend, looking to make good on their ambition to climb up the Greene King IPA Championship table.
Both sides are locked together on 29 points and six wins, the Island side just ahead courtesy of last month's draw against Nottingham.
Back to league action for the first time in 2018, the Reds will be keen to return to winning ways after last Saturday's 26-19 B&I Cup reverse to Yorkshire Carnegie in Scarborough snapped a six-match unbeaten run.
The Jersey XV sees the return of a number of players who've featured regularly in the majority of the season's league fixtures to date.
A total of 10 players come into the starting line-up. Front row unit Jake Woolmore, Nick Selway and Jake Armstrong return, as do lock Jerry Sexton and back row duo Conor Joyce and Max Argyle. Among the backs, there are returns for scrum-half Joel Dudley, centres Apakuki Ma'afu and Mark Best and winger Josh Hodson, while Brendan Cope and co-skipper Scott van Breda revert to fly-half and full-back respectively.
Reaching the second tier in 2016 after taking the National One title was the latest promotion in Richmond's 16-year march back up the league ladder after being forced into administration and giving up their Premier League status in 1999. Last season they finished 10th in the Championship, four points ahead of Rotherham Titans after the withdrawal of London Welsh, but this season their sights have been set higher and they are already one ahead of last season's tally of five wins.
Fixtures between the Reds and Richmond book-ended the 2016/17 season. In September 2016, Jersey scored seven tries at the RAG and won 16-41; the Easter return fixture on the Island was a closer-run affair, with Ross Adair's 77th-minute interception sealing a 28-17 victory for the home side. But the Island side were well-beaten in the most recent encounter, the Londoners winning 23-14 on home turf; each side registered a brace of converted tries, but Rob Kirby's three penalties made the difference.
The two clubs had previously met in two league campaigns. In 2002/03, Richmond were champions of London Three South-West, defeating the Reds 3-32 at St Peter and 30-13 at the RAG as part of a run of 83 successive league wins. In 2010/11 it was Jersey who gained promotion from National Two South - honours between the two sides finished even, with Jersey winning 29-9 at St Peter having lost 25-14 in London.
While Jersey Reds Athletic have a weekend off, the club's Women's XV will be in action on the mainland when they tackle Basingstoke on Sunday afternoon. Both the Jersey amateur sides will be in action on home turf on Saturday February 3rd, part of a busy weekend that also includes the inaugural Jersey Reds Beer & Cider Festival, featuring a range of live music and the opening games of the NatWest 6 Nations.
Jersey Reds squad v Richmond FC (H) - Greene King IPA Championship, Round 14/22, Saturday January 27th, Stade Santander International, k-o 3pm
Scott Van Breda (co-capt)
Jake Woolmore (co-capt)
Jack Macfarlane, Roy Godfrey, Leeroy Atalifo, Tom Quarrie, Uili Kolo'ofa'i; Kieran Hardy, Oli Bryant.