Jersey Reds tackle their toughest challenge of the season to date on Sunday when they travel to the Madejski Stadium in Reading to take on unbeaten league leaders London Irish.
The Exiles have claimed 44 out of a possible 45 points in this season's Greene King IPA Championship to date, the sole 'blemish' coming in their 19-0 win over Doncaster Knights on the opening weekend of the league campaign.
For the first league meeting between the clubs, the Reds have recruited a former Exiles player: centre Guy Armitage, now with Wasps, has joined Jersey on loan and trained with his new team-mates for the first time this morning.
Ex-England under 20 cap Armitage (pictured above), who will be 25 next Tuesday, spent two seasons with London Irish from 2012-14, making more than 40 appearances; after a spell at Toulon in France, alongside his brothers Steffon and Delon, he spent last season at London Welsh before moving to Wasps, where he featured in the club's 1st XV for the recent Anglo-Welsh Cup matches against Worcester Warriors and Sale Sharks.
The new signing come into the Reds' midfield in place of Lewis Robling, who was seriously injured in the 23-16 loss at Rotherham Titans last Saturday. Armitage will line up alongside another Wasps' loanee - and former pupil of Wellington College - Conor Dolan, who made his debut for the Reds last weekend. This is one of five changes to the starting XV as Jersey continue to select from limited resources following a series of injuries.
Sami Fisilau is selected at scrum-half, with Joel Dudley reverting to the bench, while skipper James Freeman comes back at flanker, with Max Argyle joining the replacements. The other changes involve switches at prop: Marc Thomas and Simon Kerrod come in, while Sean McCarthy and Mark Tampin move to the bench.
The injury woes have left Head Coach Harvey Biljon struggling to fill his bench, with the prospect that Dudley will be the only specialist back as back row man James Doyle comes in.
The Reds will hope to at least emulate their efforts of the same weekend in 2014, when unbeaten league leaders Worcester warriors had to rely on a last minute penalty to win 32-29 against the Reds, who earned two bonus points in defeat. Jersey also claimed a brace of bonus points in the recent match against second-placed Yorkshire Carnegie, defeated 35-29 by their Headingley hosts.
The next Championship action on the Reds' home turf will be the encounter against Doncaster Knights on Saturday December 3rd. Kick-off at St Peter will be at the earlier time of 2.30pm.
Jersey Reds squad v London Irish (A) - Greene King IPA Championship, Sunday November 27th, Madejski Stadium; k-o 2pm
James Freeman (capt)
Jack Macfarlane, Sean McCarthy, Mark Tampin, Uili Kolo'ofa'i, Max Argyle, James Doyle, Joel Dudley.
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