Jersey Reds head to Newlyn this weekend seeking revenge over the Cornish Pirates.
The Island side were turned over by the Pirates at Stade Santander International a month ago, dumped out of the Championship Cup at the quarter-final stage after the visitors came from behind to earn a 13-17 victory.
The Cornish cup victory broke a run of six Jersey wins in this fixture between the sides dubbed by some as local rivals, in spite of there being a large stretch of the English Channel separating them. The most recent Pirate success had been by 16-10 at the Mennaye Field in December 2015.
After a three-game losing streak that included their Cup exit, the Reds have rediscovered their mojo in recent weeks with good wins against Yorkshire Carnegie and Doncaster Knights, and will be keen to stay ahead of their hosts, who are just two places and four points behind third-placed Jersey.
Following the 41-21 home win over the Knights, built on the platform of a blitzkrieg beginning that included four tries in 22 minutes, Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon has made just three changes to the starting XV who will take on his former club.
Scrum-half Will Homer, another former Pirate – although only for a brief loan period late in the 2014/15 season – is recalled to the starting line-up, with Liam Howley reverting to the bench. And there’s rotation in the pack: Charlie Beckett will start in the second row, behind Sam Rodman at tight-head prop, with Dave McKern and Leeroy Atalifo ready to make an impact from the bench.
The remainder of the starting line-up and bench is unchanged; among the replacements are hooker Jack Macfarlane (pictured above), the latest member of the current squad to agree a new deal stretching into the 2019/20 season, and another former Pirate, Aaron Penberthy.
As well as members of their ‘overseas’ fan base, the visiting Reds will be cheered on by a contingent of Jersey-based supporters who are joining the players and coaches on a 36-hour charter trip that also includes a visit to Skinner’s Brewery in Truro, where ‘Jersey Pride’ ale is brewed by expatriate ‘Bean’ Steve Skinner and his team.
The match will be the last in the current block of Greene King IPA Championship fixtures, with the league programme pausing for a weekend off, after which the Reds will host Hartpury at the Stade on Saturday March 23rd (kick-off 3pm).
Jersey Reds Athletic have a home game in the Zoo Shield this Saturday, taking on Chinnor at 2pm.
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v Cornish Pirates (A) – Greene King IPA Championship Round 17/22, Sunday March 10th, Mennaye Field, k-o 2.30pm
Leroy Van Dam
Jerry Sexton (capt)
Jack Macfarlane, Harry Morley, Leeroy Atalifo, Dave McKern, Conor Joyce; Liam Howley, Aaron Penberthy