Jersey head to Headingley this weekend looking to tear up the script and claim a place in the final of the British & Irish Cup.
On Sunday afternoon the Island side will tackle Yorkshire Carnegie having lost the last six meetings between the clubs and seeking to overcome a poor record at Headingley which comprises four defeats and just a solitary bonus point. Carnegie, who are gunning for a play-off place in the Greene King IPA Championship, boast a wealth of experience in their squad, not to mention rugby royalty in the form of 'King' Kevin Sinfield.
The two sides met in the opening round of this season's Championship, a match finishing in a comfortable 39-22 home win for the men from Leeds; the outcome was cruel for the visitors, who led 13-22 at half-time and came close to extending their advantage early in the second half.
It's necessary to go back three-and-a-half years for Jersey's only win over Carnegie in their home county, a 27-33 victory in October 2012 in a B&I game played at York RUFC.
Four straight wins saw Jersey qualify for the knock-out stage of the B&I for the first time this season, and a fifth victory in a hard-fought quarter-final tussle at Goldington Road saw Jersey progress to the last four at the expense of Bedford Blues (final score 15-19).
Head Coach Harvey Biljon, a B&I winner in 2010 during his time with the Cornish Pirates, has selected the same starting XV as took to the field in Bedford last Friday night. This includes two former Carnegie players: loose-head prop Sam Lockwood and lock Pierce Phillips.
Jersey's bench features three changes from the quarter-final as an Argentinian, a Tongan and an Irishman step up for duty. Pumas prop Nacho Lancuba is recalled in place of Sean McCarthy, World Cup scrum-half Sami Fisilau returns after injury and gets the nod ahead of Jack Moates, while Belfast-born Mark McCrea provides cover in the three-quarters, with Tua Otto ruled out.
The winner of the semi-final tie, which will be streamed exclusively back to the JRFC Clubhouse (booking details are HERE) will go on to host the B&I Final against either London Welsh or Cornish Pirates on the second weekend of April. Jersey's next home game will be the Championship clash against London Scottish, which will be played on Good Friday, March 25th, kicking off at 3pm.
Jersey squad v Yorkshire Carnegie (A) - British & Irish Cup Semi-Final, Sunday March 20th, Headingley Carnegie Stadium, k-o 3pm
Alex Rae (capt)
17 Nov 2022
Old rivals both seek to stretch start-of-season winning run to 10 games