Jersey Reds will take to the field for their first match of 2018 looking to confirm a place in the knock-out stages of the British & Irish Cup for the third successive season.
A win at Stade Santander International under the Friday Night Lights would be the Reds' fifth straight win in this season's B&I and would guarantee progress beyond the pool stage. A bonus point in victory would seal a home tie in the quarter-final, to be played over the Easter weekend, but the primary focus will be to stretch a winning run that currently stands at four games - a back-to-back cup double over London Scottish, followed by league wins over Hartpury and Cornish Pirates.
The home side are looking for a bumper crowd to kick off 2018 and have reduced ticket prices in a one-off 'January sale'. Non-members will be admitted for £10 while the members' rate will be £5. Advance tickets and places for the pre-match meal in the supporters' marquee are available via Eventbrite.
Head Coach Harvey Biljon selects an identical 22-man squad to the line-up originally named for the Reds' last game, the 15-19 win at Cornish Pirates on New Year's Eve. Both half-backs selected for the game in Cornwall, Brendan Cope and Kieran Hardy, subsequently withdrew on the eve of the match due to injury, but the duo are back in the starting XV to face the Dragons, meaning Oli Bryant and Joel Dudley revert to the bench. Cope will play his first match since being named Sports Personality of the Month for December by the Island's daily newspaper, the Jersey Evening Post.
The Reds will have co-captains for the match, with full-back Scott van Breda and loose-head prop Jake Woolmore sharing the leadership duties.
The home club have been heartened by an optimistic forecast that suggests the weather will be a vast improvement on conditions when the Reds travelled to south Wales in October to take on the Dragons at their Ystrad Mynach training facility near Caerphilly. Fortunately the artificial surface ensured the game was never in jeopardy, in spite of torrential rain, and after a tight first half which ended with the visitors 7-12 ahead, Jersey pulled away to complete a 7-34 win.
The pool stages of this season's B&I will conclude on Saturday January 20th when the Reds will travel to Scarborough to take on Yorkshire Carnegie. Then it will be back to Greene King IPA Championship action, with a home game against Richmond on Saturday January 27th.
There's also a Richmond v Jersey clash this weekend, with Jersey Reds Athletic travelling to London to take on Richmond Vikings (k-o 12.30pm). However there's no game for Jersey Reds Women after scheduled opponents Oakmeadians pulled out of their trip to the Island.
Jersey Reds squad v Dragons Premiership Select (H) - British & Irish Cup Pool 3, Round 5/6, Friday January 12th, Stade Santander International, k-o 7.45pm
Scott Van Breda (co-capt)
Jake Woolmore (co-capt)
Jack Macfarlane, Roy Godfrey, Leeroy Atalifo, James Voss, Rory Bartle; Joel Dudley, Oli Bryant
17 Nov 2022
Old rivals both seek to stretch start-of-season winning run to 10 games