After successive home defeats, Jersey Reds will be striving to get back on track when they face Yorkshire Carnegie under the Friday Night Lights at Stade Santander International.
The reverses against London Scottish and Cornish Pirates have stalled the Reds’ upward progress in the league table; as Pirates, Ealing Trailfinders and Coventry have surged forward in the battle to keep in touch with unbeaten Championship leaders Newcastle Falcons, the Reds are languishing in fifth place.
Visitors Yorkshire Carnegie may be lying 12th in the rankings, but the Reds will be aware that they competed on even terms with the Falcons during the first half of their game at Emerald Headingley last Sunday. New Director of Rugby Phil Davies has already had an impact and has signalled that he is likely to reinforce his squad.
The Reds’ starting XV shows four changes to the line-up that lost 10-23 to the Pirates last Saturday. Props Roy Godfrey and Zei Alexis come into the front row, with the latter making his first start since arriving on the Island in November 2018. In the back row, Max Argyle moves sideways to take Janco Venter’s place at number 8, with Conor Joyce coming in at blindside flanker.
The final change is at full-back, with Auguy Slowik making his first appearance since the pre-Christmas game with Scottish. Greg Dyer drops to the bench, where there are also opportunities for prop James Wayland and lock Liam Hallam-Eames.
Last season saw the Reds complete a double over Carnegie, winning 36-19 at Stade Santander International in September and then 10-28 at Emerald Headingley in February, their first win at the ground at the eighth attempt.
The brace of wins in 2018/19 bucked a long-term trend in which Carnegie have finished on top in the majority of encounters, winning 13 of 19 league and cup matches since Jersey reached the Championship in 2012.
Several players in the Reds’ squad have played for Carnegie in the past. Josh Bainbridge and Brendan Cope were part of the 2018/19 squad, scrum-half Will Homer made around 20 appearances during the 2017/18 season and both TJ Harris and Auguy Slowik spent brief loan periods at Headingley.
Following the Carnegie match and a weekend off, the Reds will prepare for a trip to Bedford on Saturday February 1st, after which their next home game will be on Saturday February 8th – Ealing Trailfinders are the visitors for a game that will kick off at 2pm and be followed by the Guinness 6 Nations game between Scotland and England at 4.45pm.
Jersey Reds Athletic are also in action on home turf this weekend, taking on Rams Titans in the Raging Bull Shield on Saturday at 1.30pm.
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v Yorkshire Carnegie (H) – Greene King IPA Championship, Round 10/22, Stade Santander International, Friday January 23rd 2019, k-o 7.45pm
Leroy Van Dam
Josh Bainbridge (capt)