Knock-out rugby takes centre stage at Stade Santander International tomorrow, as Jersey Reds and Cornish Pirates battle to take the next step towards Championship Cup silverware.
The old rivals will lock horns from 2pm, part of an appetising day’s rugby that will also include the Ireland v England game in the Guinness 6 Nations, which follows on at 4.45pm.
The Pirates have a proud cup tradition, having won the British & Irish Cup in its first season, defeating Munster ‘A’ 23-14 at the Recreation ground in Camborne in May 2010, and only twice in the nine seasons of the B&I failing to reach the knock-out stages.
Qualification for the knock-out stage of the inaugural Championship Cup came as a result of finishing second to London Irish in pool 3, winning four out of six games including a win over the Exiles at the Mennaye Field in Penzance in the final round. The quarter-final trip to Jersey is a repeat of the 2016/17 B&I Cup, when the Reds won through to the last four with a 36-20 victory.
The home side have also built up a creditable cup record, reaching the B&I semi-final in each of the past three seasons, and winning five of their six pool matches during November and December. Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon, an Assistant Coach with the Pirates when they lifted the B&I Cup, has made relatively few changes to his Jersey squad from Sunday’s game against London Irish. The Reds’ fell short at the Madejski Stadium in their bid to complete a double over the leaders of the Greene King IPA Championship, losing 27-3, and will be keen to bounce back, especially having failed to score a try in a league match for the first time since April 2016.
The sole change to the starting pack sees Dave McKern come in for Charlie Beckett, who drops to the bench. In the backs, Aaron Penberthy comes in at fly-half, with Brett Herron dropping back to full-back, and Auguy Slowik shifting to the wing in place of Jason Worrall.
As well as Beckett and the front row trio of Nick Selway, Harry Morley and Sam Rodman, there are opportunities for impact from the bench through back row man Kyle Hatherell, scrum-half Hilton Mudariki and centre George Eastwell.
Although the Reds have won the last six matches against the Pirates in league and cup, the overall record since 2012 is much closer, with nine Jersey wins to their rivals’ seven.
The cup clash is one of a series of four home games in five weekends for the Reds, which concludes with the league match against London Scottish on Saturday February 9th. Advance tickets are available via the Eventbrite site.
Please note that season tickets are not valid for the knock-out stages of the cup. Non-members tickets (£19) can be purchased in advance via Eventbrite, or on the day. Members (£12) and student (£7) tickets are only available on the day – relevant ID will be required. Under 18s will be admitted free-of-charge.
Team-sheets and a link to our free online programme should be available this afternoon (Friday) and will be posted here.
Downloadable team-sheet – see HERE
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v Cornish Pirates (H) – RFU Championship Cup quarter-final, Saturday February 2nd, Stade Santander International, k-o 2pm
Leroy Van Dam
Jerry Sexton (capt)
Nick Selway, Harry Morley, Sam Rodman, Charlie Beckett, Kyle Hatherell; Hilton Mudariki, George Eastwell