Jersey Reds will be seeking to back up a promising start to their 2021/22 league campaign when they run out for their first competitive outing on their home patch at Stade Santander International on Saturday afternoon.
The Reds will face Bedford Blues, who will play their first competitive outing of the new season after drawing a bye for the opening weekend of the RFU Championship.
While the Jersey squad were pleased to hit the ground running with an impressive 7-47 win at London Scottish, scoring seven tries in the process, they will be aware of the importance of backing up the result with a positive display in front of their home supporters.
Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon has made minimal changes to his squad, including the selection of the same starting pack. This will include number 8 Guy Thompson, scorer of a hat-trick of tries against the Exiles on Saturday, and playing his first competitive match on Jersey turf since the crucial relegation decider against Doncaster Knights in April 2013, having rejoined the Reds this summer.
There are two changes to the back-line: scrum-half James Mitchell is promoted from the bench and will partner Brendan Owen, who acquitted himself well last Saturday in his first competitive outing as fly-half; while Jack Roberts comes in at centre, with Jordan Holgate moving to the bench.
Jersey supporters will be excited to see home-grown hooker Harry Doolan lined up for a debut from the bench – the Jersey-born teenager showed impressive form in pre-season and gains an opportunity after an injury to Jack Macfarlane – fortunately not as serious as first feared – against the Exiles.
Two loan players are also on the bench and set for their first competitive action in a Reds’ shirt: prop Luke Yendle, who arrived from Welsh region Dragons earlier this month, and scrum-half Harry Simmons, who is on season-long loan from Leicester Tigers.
In last season’s truncated Championship campaign, the Blues finished the season in eighth, and their match against the Reds at Goldington Road ended in a 20-25 win for the visitors from Jersey. Overall the Reds have won 10 of the 17 league and cup matches between the sides since 2012, with seven wins to Mike Rayer’s side.
Tickets remain available for the game, but must be purchased in advance via the Jersey Reds website.
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v Bedford Blues (H) – RFU Championship, Round 2/20, Stade Santander International, Saturday September 25th 2021, k-o 2.30pm [*= competitive debut]
Scott Van Breda; Ryan Olowofela, Jack Roberts, Dan Barnes, Will Brown; Brendan Owen, James Mitchell; James Flynn, Eoghan Clarke, Ciaran Parker, Sean O’Connor, Macauley Cook, Max Argyle, Lewis Wynne (capt), Guy Thompson.
Harry Doolan*, Roy Godfrey, Luke Yendle*, Zak Farrance, Alex Humfrey, Wesley White, Harry Simmons*, Jordan Holgate.