Rugby fans in Jersey will be climbing the walls in anticipation of Friday night's home match against Yorkshire Carnegie.
The Friday Night Lights encounter is Jersey Reds' first home game in the Greene King IPA Championship this season, after three away games and the enforced postponement of the visit by London Irish in mid-September. It's been short rations all round for supporters on the Island this month, with Jersey Reds Women also suffering a postponement and just a single game, on September 1st, for the club's 2nd XV, Reds Athletic.
The anticipation at finally seeing league action on home turf, six weeks after the last of three home friendly games, is mixed with the realisation that the Reds urgently need to get a win on the board after three narrow defeats that have left them propping up the embryonic Championship table.
The starting XV has three changes to the line-up who began last Saturday's 27-24 defeat at London Scottish. Aaron Penberthy will make his first league start since returning to Jersey in the summer, stepping in at fly-half in place of Brett Herron. James Newey comes in at centre, with Mark Best switching to the bench. The final change is at hooker, with Charlie Maddison brought in to the starting line-up and Nick Selway moving to the bench.
The Reds' starting scrum-half, Will Homer, will line up against the team he played for last season, making around 20 appearances while on loan from Bath, including a man-of-the-match display against the Reds in November.
Four of the bench players from last Saturday retain their place, supplemented by Best, Selway and prop Cameron Holenstein.
Yorkshire Carnegie and Jersey Reds were separated by just two points in the Championship table last season, the Reds finishing one place and two points above the Leeds-based club.
The sides played each other four times, splitting a brace of British & Irish Cup pool games while Carnegie won both league encounters, 10-20 at Stade Santander in November and 26-21 at Emerald Headingley in April.
The 2017-18 campaign maintained a long-term trend since Jersey reached the Championship in 2012, with Carnegie winning 13 of the 17 matches between the sides.
So far this season Carnegie have won one of their four games, a comfortable home win over Richmond in round two. Their travels have not been happy ones, with defeats at Hartpury and Ealing maintaining a losing run in away Championship matches dating back to a win at Doncaster in late December. Most recently Carnegie lost 17-36 at home to Nottingham last Sunday.
Jersey Reds Athletic are also in action this weekend, travelling to south-east London to take on Old Elthamians, who won the first encounter of the season between the sides by 19-33 last month. The Athletic side claimed their first win of the season away at Wimbledon last Saturday (18-27).
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v Yorkshire Carnegie (H) - Greene King IPA Championship Round 5/22*, Friday September 29th, Stade Santander International, k-o 7.45pm
Leroy Van Dam
Roy Godfrey (capt)
Nick Selway, Harry Morley, Cameron Holenstein, Charlie Beckett, Rory Bartle; Calum Waters, Mark Best.
* Round 3: Reds v London Irish - rescheduled from Sept 15th to Nov 3rd
31 Mar 2023
Five games remain to define Championship season