Jersey Reds head to Goldington Road in Bedford on Boxing Day looking to spoil the home club's festive celebrations.
In front of what could well be the largest crowd they play in front of this season - London Irish having mustered 3,460 at the Madejski Stadium for Jersey's most recent Championship away-day - the Reds will be playing what is believed to be the club's first ever league match on Boxing Day.
Still weighed down with injuries and needing to travel on match-day via a 7am flight to Gatwick, the Reds will be underdogs against a Bedford Blues side performing on their home turf. The Blues will also be motivated to try and remedy a poor recent record against Jersey, who have won the last five matches between the clubs, including two defeats on the Goldington Road piste within a month earlier this year, with a 18-25 league success followed by another narrow victory (15-19) in the quarter-final of the British & Irish Cup.
There was little to choose between the sides at St Peter in September, with Jersey edging the contest 14-9, a result that leaves them with four wins to the Blues' three over the first half of the league campaign, and a four-point margin in the league table going into round 12.
Head Coach Harvey Biljon has named a starting XV showing four changes in personnel to the Reds' last match, the 23-19 home win over London Scottish in the B&I Cup.
Cup-tied for the last match, new signing Heath Stevens comes into the centre for the Reds alongside another recent signing, Kuki Ma'afu. Jordan Davies switches to wing while Ross Adair - who scored both his side's tries against the Exiles - will start at full-back in place of the injured Jack Cuthbert.
The other changes see an all-new starting trio in the front row, with Marc Thomas, Joe Buckle and Mark Tampin packing down for the Reds.
The away side's injury list remains a long one, and once again Biljon has just nine fit backs at his disposal, with scrum-halves Kieran Hardy and Joel Dudley selected on the bench and seeking to once again show their versatility if required, even if neither player quite fits the mould of an archetypal crash-ball centre.
Former Jersey player Michael Le Bourgeois will captain the home side, whose full line-up can be seen HERE
Jersey's next outing in the Greene King IPA Championship will be the home encounter with Ealing Trailfinders at St Peter on New Year's Day. Kick-off is at 2pm, and there'll be a buffet lunch open to all supporters - the cost is £15 per person - in the clubhouse beforehand (bookings to Club Manager Sean Dunne). With no bus service on the Island on January 1st, the home club are seeking to provide coach travel from St Helier to help supporters get to the game. Confirmation of this, plus the details, will be announced in the build-up to the game.
Jersey Reds squad v Bedford Blues (A) - Greene King IPA Championship, Round 12, Boxing Day Monday December 26th, Goldington Road; k-o 3pm
James Freeman (capt)
Jack Macfarlane, Sean McCarthy, Simon Kerrod, Uili Kolo'ofa'i, Max Argyle; Kieran Hardy, Joel Dudley.
07 Dec 2022
Biljon's side seek eighth straight league win this season