'Sedg-of-seat' escape from relegation in May sets up Jersey clash
Sedgley Park make the journey from their Manchester back-yard to Jersey this weekend in a game featuring two clubs locked together in 'lower mid-table' with 19 points each.
Sedgley began the season impressively with a 39-24 win at Cambridge, and followed this up with another bonus-point victory against Tynedale. The only way was down from this point, and three successive defeats followed, against Macclesfield, Coventry and Fylde.
October has been a mixed bag for the Mancunians: a thumping win against the Bees, a helter-skelter affair against Blackheath eventually lost by 41-34 (6 tries to 5) and a loss (don't we all) to Ealing at home last weekend by 38-8.
The revolving door that is a feature of the close season for many clubs at this level was spinning in Manchester over the summer. Of most interest to Jersey supporters was the arrival of Henno Venter, a pillar of Jersey's pack last season but released to pastures new.
Henno joined up with a former Coventry colleague Louis McGowan, joining from Rotherham, Kiwi second-row Fraley Hopa, formerly of Biggar and North Harbour, and Nuneaton hooker Scott Wright. These recruits joined the core of last season's pack, including another South African, Juan Crous, and the talismanic figure of Ben Lloyd - just back from injury - in the back row.
Some useful signings have also made an impact in the backs. Full back Gregg Smith (ex Liverpool SH) has done much of the place-kicking this season, with 56 points plus three tries, while other talent from the local area includes Jamie Harrison and Fergus Owens, who scored 13 and 19 tries respectively for Broughton Park and Vale of Lune last season. Former Sale man Chris Parrott, signed from Alghero in Italy, can play both fly half and centre.
From the Jersey camp
Youth team star Chris Levesley, an unused sub at Stourbridge last weekend, will make his 1st XV debut at St Peter. The youngster has been named at wing in a back division that sees James Copsey selected at full back as Mike Le Bourgeois retains the number 10 shirt, while Dai Bishop returns to the centre alongside Donovan Sanders and will be keen to show fans what he can do after injury problems marred the first two months of his Jersey career.
The pack has a more settled look to it, although Ben Evans and Jon Brennan are switched in and out, while Steve O'Brien starts in a back row shorn of skipper Paul Rodgers who has a knee injury. Graham Bell deputises as captain after taking the helm early in the game at Stourbridge.
Two Rosses on Jersey's bench - Broadfoot, another returning from injury, and 'Cubie' Kenwright as front row cover - his first appearance following a few months break from the game. Some 'impact' from this pair, alongside JB, Nick 'Barrel' Trower and Brendan O'Brien, is a likely feature.
15 James Copsey
14 Chris Levesley
13 David Bishop
12 Donovan Sanders
11 Ed Dawson
10 Michael Le Bourgeois
9 Dave McCormack
1 Myles Landick
2 Charlie Clyde-Smith
3 Ben Evans
4 Nathan Hannay
5 Jim Brownrigg
6 Steve O'Brien
7 Guy Thompson
8 Graham Bell (Capt)
16 Jon Brennan
17 Ross Kenwright
18 Nick Trower
19 Ross Broadfoot
20 Brendan O'Brien
Our visitors - a brief history
Sedgley Park is a district of Manchester about two miles north of the city centre and here, in 1932 at a public meeting in a temperance bar, of all places, the club began. The very first ground was a farmer's field in Whitefield, and the club has never actually played in Sedgley Park itself.
As a junior club in the days before leagues, Sedgley became a fixture in the Lancashire rugby union fraternity but then began to move to bigger things in the 1980s, which saw the opening of a new clubhouse and the arrival of league rugby. The club were at level 8 from 1987-1994, but then began a meteoric rise that saw them arrive at level 3 by 2001, and then reach level two in 2004.
For five seasons the club rubbed shoulders with big names like Harlequins, Northampton Saints, Bristol, Leeds and London Welsh, before the reorganisation that created the Championship, a reduced league at level two down from 16 to 12 clubs, saw a return to the third tier.
At the end of April this year Sedgley occupied one of the relegation spots on National League One, but the Mancunians had a rearranged game still to play and delivered a crucial, nail-biting win against Macclesfield by 26-19 to secure their league status at the expense of Redruth.
Notable former players include Cristian Raducanu, the Romanian lock who represented his country at the inaugural World Cup, and two well-known names to Jersey fans - Kern Yates and Dave McCormack.
Keeping in touch
Supporters who can't get to St Peter can keep up-to-speed with news from Jersey v Sedgley Park through the following channels:
• Preview on BBC Radio Jersey's 'Sportscene' from 6- 7pm on Friday, and live commentary on Saturday afternoon
• Preview in Friday's JEP, the 'Inside Centre' pull-out on Saturday, and full match coverage on Monday
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby forum
• Match report on Channel 103 soon after the game (between 4.45 and 5.15pm) on Saturday
• Highlights on Channel TV at 6.15pm on Monday, and online
Athletic v Cov (2nd XV) teamsheet
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