Jersey Reds will be looking to scupper their opponents’ unbeaten record when they run out at Castle Park in Doncaster this weekend.
Doncaster Knights have won all four of their games thus far in the Greene King IPA Championship and are in contention for the end-of-season play-off final along with Ealing Trailfinders, Saracens and Cornish Pirates.
The Reds are nominally the home team for this game, but the venue has been switched – one of two fixture flips forced on the Island side as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.
Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon, looking for a second win of the league season at the fourth attempt, introduces three new faces to the line-up which began the 20-25 win against Bedford Blues two weekends ago.
Tight-head prop Adam Nicol, freshly signed from Glasgow Warriors, comes straight into the front row, while Sean O’Connor returns after injury into the second row. This means Macauley Cook shifts back to flanker, while Josh Bainbridge switches to the bench.
The other change sees a debut for on-loan Bath scrum-half Max Green, who takes his place among an otherwise-unchanged back division.
The Reds’ replacements include another potential debutant in prop Ollie Dawe after his signing from Bristol Bears last summer, plus the return of Tongan international Apakuki Ma’afu, who is one of just two backs on the bench, the other being scrum-half James Elliott.
Several familiar faces will be waiting to welcome the Reds to Yorkshire. Knights’ Head Coach Steve Boden, who spent four years with the Reds as a player and then in a coaching role, is among a sizeable former Jersey contingent at Castle Park, which also includes forwards Jerry Sexton and Conor Joyce, plus three-quarters Mark Best and James Newey. Ex-Knights duo George Edgson and Jack Roberts made the opposite journey last summer.
The Reds and Knights have developed a strong rivalry since Jersey arrived at level two in 2012, with a total of 19 encounters in league and cup since then, with 10 wins to the Island side, seven to the Yorkshiremen and two draws.
The most recent encounter was at Castle Park in February 2020, a few weeks before Covid-19 ended the 2019/20 league season, with the Knights scoring six tries to end up convincing winners by 38-10, gaining revenge for their 27-0 defeat at Stade Santander International during the opening weeks of the season.
Saturday’s match will be streamed live, with access costing £10 and available via the Championship website.
An edition of the Reds' popular and innovative (and free!) online match programme will be available for all supporters on Friday afternoon.
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v Doncaster Knights – Greene King IPA Championship, Round 5/11, Castle Park, Saturday April 10th 2021, k-o 2.30pm (* = debut)
Brendan Owen; Tom Williams, Scott Van Breda, Jack Roberts, Darren Atkins; Brendan Cope, Max Green *; Dan Richardson, Jack Macfarlane, Adam Nicol *, Zak Farrance, Sean O’Connor, Macauley Cook, Lewis Wynne (capt), Max Argyle
George Edgson , Ollie Dawe *, Jack Higgins, Rory Bartle, Tim Grey, James Elliott, Josh Bainbridge, Apakuki Ma’afu