Jersey will be looking to sustain some impressive home form when they play their first Greene King IPA Championship match of 2015/16 at St Peter this Saturday.
The Islanders game against Cornish Pirates will be the eighth league match at St Peter in 2015, and so far the only defeats have been to Bristol and London Scottish.
Two of the furthest-flung outposts of Championship rugby, Jersey and the Pirates have developed a real affinity and rivalry in the past three seasons.
The rivalry stems in part from the presence of a sizeable contingent of former Pirates among Jersey's ranks in previous seasons. This number is lower now, but still includes players Joe Buckle and Aaron Penberthy and Head Coach Harvey Biljon, who spent four years coaching in Penzance.
The last two league meetings between the sides at St Peter have been memorable occasions for home players and supporters, both featuring late scores for the hosts to seal victory by the same narrow margin of two points. In November 2013 it was a late penalty from Niall O'Connor which sealed a 27-25 victory, while five months ago it was the Buckle/Penberthy old boys' combination who delivered the final try and conversion in a 28-26 success.
Jersey will be looking to atone for the disappointing result that kicked off the season last weekend. Three tries and a 13-22 half-time lead against Yorkshire Carnegie at Headingley was an encouraging start, but the visitors faded in the final quarter and finished well beaten by 39-22.
The result continued Jersey's poor form in the opening league match of recent seasons, with their most recent win being the 17-18 National Two South win at Shelford in September 2010. Pirates, meanwhile, made a winning start at their Mennaye Field home last Sunday in defeating Nottingham 18-14.
Although there were several injury concerns for Biljon after the trip to Leeds, particularly among the forwards, his starting line-up to take on his old side sees just three changes of personnel plus a positional switch.
The Argentine Nacho Lancuba takes the loosehead berth in the front row, with Sean McCarthy moving to the bench. In the back row, skipper Alex Rae switches to number eight in place of Nick Haining, while Gary Graham makes his first start for Jersey at blindside. The second row pairing of Nick Campbell and Pierce Phillips is unchanged, with Campbell set to play his 50th competitive match for the Islanders.
The sole change in the back-line sees Ross Adair come in at left wing, replacing fellow Ulsterman Mark McCrea; McCrea drops to the bench, where he will be alongside another former Ulster player: flanker Charlie Butterworth stands by to make his league debut.
Jersey squad v Cornish Pirates - Greene King IPA Championship, Saturday September 12th, St Peter, k-o 3pm
Alex Rae (capt)
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