Jersey head to England's second city this weekend looking to double their tally of league wins and kick-start their league season.
The Islanders and hosts Moseley are two of the five sides propping up the Greene King IPA Championship, with just a single win apiece from their four September outings. Moseley's victory was a striking 19-23 success at London Scottish on the opening weekend, since when they have gained two bonus points in defeat at Bedford but finished empty-handed in matches against London Welsh and Nottingham.
Jersey faced Bristol at St Peter last Saturday and never fully recovered from a Tom Varndell try after 65 seconds, eventually beaten 7-24 in spite of a second half where the honours were even (7-7) thanks to Tom Howe's try.
Head Coach Harvey Biljon has made six changes to his starting XV for the trip to Birmingham. Having lost the services of lock Nick Campbell to an ankle injury, Biljon is able to select Pierce Phillips to slot into the second row after his recovery from an injury against Doncaster a fortnight ago. Skipper Alex Rae failed a fitness test on Friday and is replaced at blindside flanker by Charlie Butterworth. Also added to the starting pack are props Sam Lockwood, who will captain the side as he makes his first league appearance of the season after sustaining a foot injury against Blackheath in August, and Danny Herriott, promoted from the bench.
In the backs Fautua Otto returns after illness in place of Ollie Evans, while Ross Adair is preferred to Mark McCrea. Jersey's bench includes summer signing Tommy Spinks, who is in line to make his league debut after an injury sustained in pre-season.
Moseley won their first four Championship encounters against Jersey; the team from South Birmingham were the second home opponents for the Islanders' maiden season at level two in September 2012, coming away 12-39 victors, and in the first game of 2013 they completed the double thanks to a 23-19 home win. And in 2013/14 there was a similar pattern - a close tussle at Billesley Common (won by Mose 10-3) and disappointment for the home crowd at St Peter (an 8-39 defeat that remains arguably Jersey's worst performance at this level).
Things picked up for the Islanders last season, although there was disappointment that a 3-19 lead at Billesley was squandered as the opening match finished 22-all. But in the final league game of the campaign, that elusive first win over Moseley finally arrived, Jersey gaining their first-ever bonus point win on home soil in 33 Championship attempts with a 40-21 triumph over a side who had retained their league status the previous weekend. Ryan Hodson and Tua Otto scored two tries each, with Sam Lockwood and Joel Dudley also crossing, and Aaron Penberthy adding five conversions.
Jersey squad v Moseley - Greene King IPA Championship, Saturday October 2nd, Billesley Common, k-o 3pm
Sam Lockwood (capt)
31 Mar 2023
Five games remain to define Championship season