Jersey and Nottingham lock horns on Friday evening knowing that victory is essential to maintain a prospect of unseating the Championship's top four from their play-off perches.
The fifth- and sixth-placed sides in the Greene King IPA Championship have ground to make up on the teams above them: Bedford Blues and Yorkshire Carnegie have 53 points apiece in third and fourth spots, while Nottingham have 44 and the Islanders 42. With just four rounds remaining after this weekend, time is fast running out for the challengers.
For their club's first-ever visit to Lady Bay, Jersey's starting XV will have four changes from their previous Championship outing against London Welsh at St Peter, when the Exiles launched a smash-and-grab with the final move of the game to seize a 14-21 victory.
Injuries force centre Mark Cooke and scrum-half Sami Fisilau out of the back-line, but Lewis Robling is fit to return to the midfield after a seven-week absence, and Joel Dudley gets an opportunity in the number 9 shirt.
The Jersey pack is without club captain Alex Rae, so Uili Kolo'ofa'i slots into the back row, while at hooker there's a welcome return for Joe Buckle, who is back in Jersey's 1st XV for the first time since being injured against Bristol last April.
Jersey's replacements bench is augmented by returns for lock Dave Markham and Aaron Penberthy, who will cover fly-half and full-back.
Jersey have won four of the seven matches between the clubs, but it was the visiting Green-and-Whites who took the spoils last time out with a 27-29 win at St Peter in October.
The match is the first of successive Friday night challenges for Jersey, who on March 11th will travel to Goldington Road in Bedford for a British & Irish Cup quarter-final game against the Blues. The Islanders' next match on home soil will be the Championship clash with London Scottish on Good Friday (kick-off 3pm).
Jersey squad v Nottingham (A) - GKIPA Championship, Friday March 3rd, Lady Bay, k-o 7.45pm
Pierce Phillips (capt)
Jersey v Nottingham action shots by Steve Lund
31 Mar 2023
Five games remain to define Championship season