Jersey Reds face a tough task as they look for a third straight win to kick off the new Championship season.
Taking on Doncaster Knights has invariably proved a tough proposition for Championship opponents, especially at Castle Park – the Yorkshire side won their home opener against London Scottish a fortnight ago and lost just one of the six league games – against eventually-promoted Saracens – staged in their back-yard last season.
The Reds and Knights have developed a strong rivalry since Jersey arrived at level two in 2012, with a total of 20 encounters in league and cup since then, with 10 wins to the Island side, eight to the Yorkshiremen and two draws.
The most recent encounters at Castle Park saw a 38-10 win for Donny in February 2020, followed in April of this year when a converted Kyle Evans try soon after half-time was the final act of scoring in a game that finished 22-10 to the Knights.
Having had a week off after the 40-28 home win over Bedford Blues at Stade Santander International, the Reds are able to field a largely settled starting XV for the trip to South Yorkshire.
The lone change to the starting team follows the departure of prop Ciaran Parker to London Irish, the latest Reds player to attract the attention of a top-flight club having developed during time in Jersey. Parker’s spot on the right-hand side of the front row is taken by Steven Longwell, who moved to the Island from Watsonians in Scotland in early September.
The rest of the starting pack is the same as started both the Blues game and the opening day win at London Scottish. Among the backs, Harry Simmons retains the full-back shirt having been a late addition to the side when Scott Van Breda was injured during the warm-up prior to Bedford.
Among the replacements, there’s a lift for the Reds in the shape of hooker TJ Harris returning from a seven-month injury lay-off dating back to the visit to Saracens last March. Also selected are two recent signings: prop Huw Owen, signed from Pontypridd in July, and fly-half Tom Pittman, who arrived from Scottish Super 6 side Boroughmuir Bears at the end of September.
It’s a busy weekend for Jersey Reds as all three adult sides are in action over the same day for the first time in yonks. The Athletic amateur side host Chinnor Falcons on home turf on Saturday (k-o 2pm) while Jersey Reds Women play their opening league match away to Seaford earlier in the afternoon (k-o 12.45pm).
The Reds 1st XV will next be in action on their home turf at Stade Santander International when they entertain Ampthill on Saturday October 23rd. Tickets are available and must be purchased in advance via the Jersey Reds website.
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v Doncaster Knights (A) – RFU Championship, Match 3/20, Castle Park, Saturday October 9th 2021, k-o 2.30pm [*= competitive debut]
Harry Simmons; Ryan Olowofela, Jack Roberts, Dan Barnes, Will Brown; Brendan Owen, James Mitchell; James Flynn, Eoghan Clarke, Steven Longwell, Sean O’Connor, Macauley Cook, Max Argyle, Lewis Wynne (capt), Guy Thompson.
TJ Harris, Huw Owen*, Luke Yendle, Zak Farrance, Tim Grey, James Elliott, Tom Pittman*, Jordan Holgate.