For the ninth time in 15 weekends, Jersey Reds will face an early alarm ahead of a flight to England – this time for the final away trip of the truncated 2020/21 season.
The Reds will take on Hartpury University in a match that will have a significant impact on the end-of-season rankings in the Greene King IPA Championship, with the sides only two points apart in the league table and each having just one game remaining after this one.
An attritional season has seen multiple injuries among the Jersey squad, notably in the front row, with seven players unavailable this weekend. This has meant further activity in the loan market by Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon, with prop Will Vaughan arriving at the start of the week and named on the bench for Saturday’s game.
Four players are drafted into the starting XV following the disappointing 10-34 home defeat to Coventry. Jack Roberts is the only back, coming in at centre while Brendan Owen reverts to the wing and Darren Atkins drops out following a head injury assessment.
In the pack, there are starts for Ollie Dawe and Eoghan Clarke in the front row, while Zak Farrance’s return to the second row means Macauley Cook moves to blindside flanker, Max Argyle (pictured below by Rich Chapman) goes across to number 8 in what will be his 100th competitive appearance for the Reds and Matti Williams drops to the bench.
The Reds will be seeking to maintain an undefeated record on Hartpury’s home patch, having started the sequence with a 19-20 win in the College side’s first-ever home match at this level in September 2017. A thumping 14-52 win followed the following season, but there wasn’t much between the teams in the Championship Cup clash between the teams in September 2019, with the Reds eventually winning 13-24. In January 2020, TJ Harris scored a late mauled try to break Hartpury hearts and give the visitors a 9-10 win.
Hartpury’s league visits to Stade Santander International have been close affairs, with an 18-14 home success in December 2017, followed by a Hartpury win in March 2019, when Sam Leeming’s penalty broke a 7-7 tie in the dying minutes. Most recently, the Reds led by just a point (14-13) at half-time in a Championship Cup tie in December 2019, but eventually won 33-20.
The home club will welcome spectators for the first time this season, while supporters in Jersey will be able to watch a live stream via the Championship website at a cost of £10.
The Reds will complete their league season on Saturday May 29th, with Cornish Pirates the visitors to Stade Santander International. Tickets are available at www.jerseyreds.je/tickets
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v Hartpury University (A) – Greene King IPA Championship, Round 10/11, ALPAS Arena, Saturday May 22nd 2021, k-o 1.30pm (* = debut)
Scott Van Breda; Tom Williams, Jack Roberts, Dan Barnes, Brendan Owen; Brendan Cope, Max Green; Ollie Dawe, Eoghan Clarke, Ciaran Parker, Zak Farrance, Sean O’Connor, Macauley Cook, Lewis Wynne (capt), Max Argyle.
Jack Macfarlane, Will Vaughan*, Jack Higgins, James Scott, Matti Williams, James Elliott, Josh Bainbridge, Bader Pretorius.