Jersey Reds will lock horns with Doncaster Knights this weekend, with the rival clubs each knowing that defeat would be likely to signal the end of their ambitions to reach this season's Greene King IPA Championship play-offs.
The penultimate round of the Championship sees the fifth-placed Reds travel to Castle Park to take on the Knights, who are just one place and two points above them in the table.
The Reds will be seeking to extend their recent winning run to an 11th game, as defeat would be highly likely to leave too much ground to be made up on the Knights and third-placed Ealing Trailfinders in the race for a top-four spot. The home side will also be going all out for a win, knowing that a loss at Jersey's hands would leave them reliant on other results going their way.
The decisive clash comes four years to the week after another crunch encounter, when the sides met at St Peter for a game between the two candidates for Championship relegation. The Knights lost a tense encounter by 13-10 and duly slipped through the trap-door the following week, although they were to bounce straight back from National One 12 months later.
The Jersey squad are well-used to knock-out rugby after quarter-final and semi-final wins in the British & Irish Cup during the past month. The semi-final game took place at the Madejski Stadium in Reading last Sunday, where the Reds claimed a 17-25 win, their second in successive weeks over the Exiles, to gain a place in the final against Munster 'A'.
Head Coach Harvey Biljon has named an unchanged 22-man squad for the trip to Yorkshire, with the Reds' conditioning and rehabilitation team having worked hard to ensure the players will be ready to go six days after the B&I clash with Irish.
The two sides had met eight times prior to this season, registering three wins and two draws apiece and notching up identical points tallies of 163. In the league encounter at St Peter in December, the Reds were victorious having led 32-7 at half-time, but not before the visitors from Yorkshire had embarked on a thrilling fightback. This culminated in a last-minute try by Glen Young, converted by Dougie Flockhart, which made the final score 35-29 and earned two bonus points - exactly what separates the two sides in the current Championship table.
The last round of the regular Championship season will be played the following weekend, with Jersey Reds hosting Richmond on Easter Saturday, April 15th. Kick-off at St Peter is at 3pm.
Jersey Reds squad v Doncaster Knights (A) - Greene King IPA Championship, Round 21, Saturday April 8th, Castle Park; k-o 2.30pm
James Freeman (capt)
Nick Selway, Sean McCarthy, Jake Armstrong, Uili Kolo'ofa'i, Max Argyle; Joel Dudley, George Eastwell.
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