Jersey kick off the New Year with the high-flying Doncaster Knights heading for a Hogmanay away-day in the Channel Islands.
The two sides square up at St Peter on Saturday afternoon, having been evenly matched in all their previous encounters to date. The Knights are second in the table, having lost just three of their dozen league games to date, while the Islanders are looking to ascend from their current position of sixth in the Greene King IPA Championship.
The first Jersey starting XV of the New Year features six changes in personnel, split equally between forwards and backs, from the final selection of 2015.
Jack Moates will be the starting scrum-half, Fautua Otto returns to midfield and Rich Lane (full-back) makes his first league start since October, with Sami Fisilau, Oli Evans and Aaron Penberthy the backs who miss out.
In the pack, hooker Nick Selway, tighthead Oli Tomaszczyk and James Freeman (back row) step up, with the trio they replace - Martin Garcia-Veiga, Danny Herriott and Uili Kolo'ofa'i, all switching to the bench. Captain Alex Rae moves across to number 8, while scrum-half Joel Dudley and back row man Tommy Spinks are called up to the bench.
The Knights are unbeaten in 10 games across the Championship and B&I Cup stretching back to October 9th, and are currently just five points behind pace-setters Bristol.
The sides have met twice already this season; September's league clash at Castle Park looked to be going the Islanders' way as they led 16-27 early in the second half, but Donny recovered to seize the win 31-27. And at St Peter in November Jersey recovered from a 5-22 half-time deficit in the B&I Cup, levelling the scores and missing a late penalty that would have won the game.
A total of six games between the sides over the past four seasons has seen three Knights' wins and two for Jersey, all with winning margins ranging from three to seven points. Throw in the B&I draw, and the aggregate tally for the series so far is 127-122 to Doncaster.
The Yorkshiremen have chartered a Boeing 737 for their trip to the largest Channel Island. Almost 100 supporters will join the players and coaching staff on the flight with Titan Airways, which tour organisers insist has no connection with local rivals Rotherham.
The home side are calling for a large turnout of Island supporters to counter the day-trippers from the north of England, and to cheer on the Jersey side as they seek to kick off 2016 with a significant scalp.
For a detailed profile of the visitors plus analysis of previous encounters, see HERE
Jersey v Doncaster Knights (H) - Greene King IPA Championship, Saturday January 2nd, St Peter, k-o 2.30pm
Alex Rae (capt)
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