New signing 'Fish' in at deep end for potential
'Clash of the Tongans'
New signing Samisoni Fisilau has been handed his first start for
Jersey in this weekend's away match against Doncaster at Castle
The Tongan international, nicknamed Fish, has been
named at scrum-half in the Islanders' starting XV, and will play
alongside Jonny Bentley, who featured as a late replacement in last
weekend's narrow defeat to Bristol.
Jersey produced an impressive performance against the unbeaten
league leaders on the manicured greensward of St Peter, and led
17-15 with just seven minutes to play. Bristol snatched the lead
when Marco Mama scored from a rolling maul, but the result was not
secured until Nicky Robinson's try in the final play completed a
somewhat fortunate 17-27 win for Bristol and robbed Jersey of a
Jersey have now lost eight games in succession - five league and
three cup - and will play a side also in poor form: Doncaster have
lost seven Championship matches in succession and are currently
11th, one place and two points behind Jersey. Both sides are among
a clutch in the bottom half of the table who could be vulnerable
should Plymouth Albion manage to back up Saturday's home win over
Moseley, their first in the league in 17 attempts.
In addition to Biljon's half-back changes, which see Aaron
Penberthy drop to the bench and the unlucky Joel Dudley drop out of
the squad altogether, the back division sees just one other change
in personnel, plus a positional switch. Mark McCrea returns on the
wing, which means Drew Locke moves to outside centre in place of
Jersey's starting pack would have been the same unit as took on
Bristol, but skipper Alex Rae, who this week confirmed a new
two-year deal with JRFC, failed a fitness test following injury
against Bristol. Mick Noone comes in at blindside flanker and his
place among the forward replacements is taken by 'PK' Kaho.
The Tongan Latu Makaafi is likely to be in the Doncaster back
row. Latu was one of the first professional players signed by
Jersey in 2006 - he played in London Two South (level six) for
Jersey for two seasons, and returned to the Island for a second
stint in at Championship level 2013/14 before returning to
Yorkshire, where his CV also includes time with Rotherham, Bradford
& Bingley, Hull and Wharfedale.
In fact Tonga could be widely represented in the fixture; this
week the Knights signed eight-times capped fly-half Latiume Fosita,
who played alongside Jersey's Fisilau in Pacific Nations Cup
matches against Fiji and Samoa last June. Also in the Doncaster 1st
XV squad and in contention for this weekend's match is scrum-half
Tomasi Palu, who played in the 2011 World Cup and won the most
recent of his 11 caps against Scotland last November.The three
half-backs are among those competing for places in the Tongan squad
at next year's World Cup, where the Pacific Island side will take
on Argentina, Georgia and Namibia. Oh, and the holders New
Jersey squad v Doncaster Knights 'A' - Greene King IPA
Championship, Saturday January 17th, Castle Park - k-o
Ryan Hodson (capt)
The two sides met twice in the RFU Championship in 2012/13. In
late November Knights won 22-17 on home soil; the second
encounter was a pivotal one which was likely to have a major
bearing on the relegation battle that season. Jersey won 13-10 and a few days
later Doncaster's relegation - the first in the club's history
since leagues began - was confirmed.
In September this year, after the Knights had returned to the
Championship after winning promotion back from National One at the
first attemmpt, Jersey held a narrow 10-8 lead at the break, thanks
to a Tommy Bell try. The lead was extended to 17-8 within three
minutes but Doncaster stormed back and eventually won 17-23.
Click on results above for match reports
Doncaster - a potted history
Back in the day: the club had various homes during the
first 50 years of its existence, and then spent around 30 years
sharing a home with the Doncaster Cricket Club before moving to the
site of their present home in the 1950s - the now very
well-appointed rugby ground and conference facility Castle
Famous sons: Director of Rugby Clive Griffiths was an
accomplished full-back in his day, but his way into the Welsh team
was blocked by the great JPR Williams. Griffiths earned one cap,
replacing the great man mid-way through a Five Nations win over
England in 1979
Jersey connection: he'd like to have been included in the
category above, but Jersey Forwards Coach Steve Boden made around
200 appearances for the club until he moved to Jersey in summer
2012, and scored 18 tries for Knights, including 10 in 2007/08.
Former Jersey full-back Glenn Bryce spent last season at Castle
Park, but has since left the club and returned to his native
Scotland where he is playing for Heriot's FP.
Silverware: The Yorkshire Shield in 1979, and of course
National One in April 2014
League History: Doncaster made a meteoric rise up the
English rugby pyramid after leagues were introduced in 1987.
Starting in Yorkshire Division Two (Level 10), by 2005 they had
reached Level Two, where they spent eight seasons until relegation
The RFU Championship this weekend
After 'Synchronised Saturday' last weekend, when all six games
were played, it's back to the usual fixture mixture.
Friday's game see London Scottish host the Pirates, while on
Saturday Bedford travel to Rotherham and Worcester make the short
journey to Moseley. On Sunday it's Bristol versus Yorkshire
Carnegie, while Plymouth Albion will try and repeat their winning
effort of last weekend in Nottingham - the first game for the Green
and Whites since moving from Meadow Lane to their Lady Bay training
For full preview see HERE
After winter hibernation, Jersey Athletic are back in action with
a home game against Henley Bulls. The match kicks off at 2pm at St
Enjoy your weekend's rugby!
Why not get yourself a Hot Pot (Curry or Chilli served with rice) in the supporters marquee £8 per pot.