Jersey will take to the field at St Peter for the final time this year looking to complete the double over Irish visitors Connacht Eagles.
The Islanders produced a powerful display at the Galway Sportsground to defeat the Irish province's 'A' team 10-40 last weekend; Harvey Biljon's men know that another victory will confirm them as realistic contenders to reach the knock-out stages of the British & Irish Cup prior to the final two pool matches next month.
Jersey's Head Coach has retained eight members of the starting XV from the trip to Galway. In the back-line, centres Oli Evans and Mark Cooke will pair up again, while Rich Lane is selected at full-back. Coming back into the team are wings Tom Howe and Ross Adair, plus half-backs Sami Fisilau and Brendan Cope.
Nacho Lancuba and Nick Selway retain their starting berths in the front row and are joined by the recalled Oli Tomaszczyk. Tongan international Uili Kolo'ofa'i, who scored four tries as a number 8 last weekend, moves forward to lock alongside Will Rowlands, while in the back row James Freeman retains his place, Tommy Spinks is promoted from the bench to number 8 and skipper Alex Rae returns to the side.
Four more players who missed the trip to Ireland are recalled to join the Jersey replacements' bench - forwards Martin Garcia-Veiga, Sam Lockwood and Gary Graham, plus Lewis Robling to cover centre and fly-half. Jersey's other replacements are prop Danny Herriott, lock Dave Markham and scrum-half Jack Moates.
Jersey currently have eight points in pool 5 of the B&I, trailing Doncaster Knights and the Dragons Select by three and two points respectively. The top two meet on Saturday at Ystrad Mynach, and Jersey then tackle both sides in potentially decisive games next month, with quarter-final places available to the winners of the five pools, plus the best three second-placed sides.
As a festive gesture to supporters, tickets for this Saturday's match will be available at last season's prices: £10 for members and £15 for non-members. There will also be carol singing, mince pies and other festive touches, plus European Cup rugby on the big screens. Kick-off at St Peter will be at 2pm.
After this weekend's match, Christmas will come to an abrupt halt for the Jersey squad, who convene at Jersey Airport at 7.30am on Boxing Day ahead of the Greene King IPA Championship match away to Cornish Pirates on Sunday December 27th.
The Reds will be back in action on home soil on Saturday January 2nd when Doncaster Knights are the visitors to St Peter. The Knights are flying high in this season's Championship, currently lying second to promotion favourites Bristol, and have chartered a plane for supporters to follow their side on the Hogmanay away-day to the Channel Islands.
Jersey v Connacht Eagles - British & Irish Cup, Pool 5, Saturday December 19th, St Peter, k-o 2pm
Alex Rae (capt)
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