Jersey embark on their fourth British & Irish Cup campaign this weekend, seeking a winning start to the 2015/16 tournament against Championship rivals Doncaster Knights.
Seeking to maintain momentum after last weekend's excellent away win at London Scottish, Harvey Biljon has made minimal changes to his line-up. Jersey's Head Coach is calling on his side to show Island supporters what they are capable of with a similar display on home soil.
"I've had a few questions during the opening weeks of the season about what Jersey's approach will be to the B&I Cup this season," he said. "Now that we've reached the opening game, I am challenging the squad to show the supporters at St Peter that what they achieved in London last week wasn't a one-off, and that their levels of commitment will be the same regardless of which competition we are playing in."
The Jersey back-line is unchanged from the Exiles match, with Aaron Penberthy retaining the full-back spot after an impressive tactical kicking display.
Five players come into the starting pack, four of whom were among Jersey's replacements at the Richmond Athletic Ground. Props Nacho Lancuba and Oliver Tomaszczyk come into the front row, Uili Kolo'ofa'i will pack down in the second row with Wasps' loanee Will Rowlands, while at the back of the scrum skipper Alex Rae will be joined by James Freeman.
Tomaszczyk, Rowlands and Kolo'ofa'i will all be making their home debuts. Rowlands is with Jersey as part of a six-month loan deal with the Aviva Premiership side.
Dave McKern will be absent after sustaining a knee injury against Scottish, but three other members of last weekend's starting line-up will be on Jersey's bench: props Sam Lockwood and Danny Herriott, and back row Gary Graham. Mark Cooke, selected in place of Mark McCrea returns to the squad to sit alongside them, as does Tommy Spinks.
"We're awaiting news of Dave McKern's scan, but it's a real blow for him to suffer an injury so soon after joining us - he was exceptional in the match against Scottish," Biljon added.
Jersey will be looking to avenge September's Championship defeat to the Knights at Castle Park, when the home side battled back from an 11-point deficit early in the second half and won 31-27. The match was typical of the meetings between the sides in recent seasons, which had previously featured two wins apiece, low winning margins on each occasion and an aggregate score of 74-73 in favour of the Islanders.
The match kicks off at the earlier time of 2.30pm, and the home side will be led out by their newly-christened mascot Jèrri. Chosen from a list of suggestions by supporters, Jèrri is the word for Jersey in the Island's native language Jèrriais, and it will be the cuddly lion's first match since the winning name was announced.
Tickets for the match are available in advance from the usual outlets: Red Properties and the Lamplighter pub in St Helier, the JEP offices at Five Oaks, or online at the JT Rewards website. Tickets can also be purchased at the pre-match social in the Barclays Pavilion at the club on Friday from 5.30 to 7.30pm - all are welcome - or on match-day.
Jersey v Doncaster Knights - British & Irish Cup, Pool 5, Sat Nov 14th, St Peter, k-o 2.30pm
Alex Rae (capt)
03 Feb 2023
Home side look to improve poor record over London rivals