Happy hunting grounds have a tendency to contain fired-up locals, which is the anticipated scenario for Jersey Reds as they seek to extend their winning run in the Championship this weekend.
The Reds have won all of the five previous games they have played at Hartpury University’s Alpas Arena home ground, meaning their hosts will be focused on ending the sequence on Saturday afternoon as the game kicks off at 1.30pm.
The Gloucestershire side are still smarting from a crucial call by officials which preceded the late Jersey try which clinched a 9-10 win in January 2020. The visitors also won by a single point on their first visit in September 2017 (19-20), although the other three games have been more comfortable, including the most recent in May of last year, when eight tries set up a 19-50 win.
Hartpury’s only win over the Reds came at Stade Santander International in March 2019 when Sam Leeming, now part of the Jersey squad, kicked a late penalty to seal a 7-10 victory. Three months ago the Reds scored five tries to three in beating Hartpury 32-17.
After three successive wins in recent weeks against Ampthill, Richmond and Nottingham, the Reds are looking to extend their run and have bring five fresh faces into the starting XV following the 31-41 win at Nottingham.
There’s a change in each row of the scrum, with skipper Lewis Wynne returning at flanker and Tim Grey moving to number 8 in place of Alun Lawrence, who will be among the replacements. Tom Everard, a former Hartpury player, gets an opportunity at second row as Macauley Cook switches to the bench for the first time this season.
Further rotation takes place in the front row as Steve Longwell makes way for Luke Yendle, who will pack down alongside Harry Doolan and Roy Godfrey.
In the backs, scrum-halves James Mitchell and James Elliott are rotated, with the latter selected to start, while there’s also a Ryan change at wing, with Hutler selected ahead of Olowofela.
After returning from Hartpury via Southampton on Saturday evening, the Reds will turn their attention to a home encounter against promotion favourites Ealing Trailfinders, one of the most eagerly-awaited fixtures at the Stade this season. Kick-off on Saturday February 19th will be at 3pm, with tickets available HERE.
This week brought confirmation of the structure and draw for this season’s Championship Cup, which will be staged during April and May. The Reds will take on London Scottish over two legs, with the meeting at the Stade on the weekend of April 9th followed by the second leg at the Richmond Athletic Ground two weeks later, and the winners taking on Hartpury or Richmond in the quarter-finals. Full fixture and result details are available via THIS LINK.
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v Hartpury University (A) – RFU Championship match 16/20, Alpas Arena, Saturday February 12th 2022, k-o 1.30pm
Brendan Owen; Ryan Hutler, Scott Van Breda, Jordan Holgate, Will Brown; Tom Pittman, James Elliott.
Roy Godfrey, Harry Doolan, Luke Yendle, Tom Everard, Sean O’Connor, Max Argyle, Lewis Wynne (capt), Tim Grey.
Eoghan Clarke, Huw Owen, Steve Longwell, Macauley Cook, Alex Humfrey, Alun Lawrence; James Mitchell, Jack Roberts.
Why not get yourself a Hot Pot (Curry or Chilli served with rice) in the supporters marquee £8 per pot.