Jersey Reds face their third outing of the new Greene King IPA Championship season this Saturday, seeking to get a win on the board prior to the league pausing for breath over Easter.
The Reds face a tough battle on the sloping surrounds of Goldington Road, where hosts Bedford Blues will be looking to bounce back after defeat to Cornish Pirates last weekend. The Blues have won one of their three outings so far.
Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon brings in four new faces to his starting XV following the 15-23 defeat to Richmond last weekend.
There’s a new pairing in midfield, with Scott Van Breda back in the side after a recent short-term loan from Worcester was extended for the remainder of the current season, and lining up alongside Jack Roberts, who made his Reds’ debut off the bench at the Athletic Ground. Brendan Owen moves to full-back, while Tom Williams will line up on the wing.
Among the forwards, Macauley Cook will make his first start for the Reds after impressing off the bench against Richmond, while Josh Bainbridge comes in at flanker, meaning a move to number 8 for Max Argyle. Kyle Hatherell reverts to the bench in his final game as a Red before joining Worcester Warriors.
The Islanders’ bench also includes prop Jack Higgins, who is in line for his competitive debut after being signed last summer.
The clubs’ most recent meeting was at Goldington Road in January last year, with the home side taking the spoils in a dramatic finale, with Huw Worthington crossing in the last play and Will Hooley’s conversion sealing a 27-25 victory.
Although there will be no spectators at the ground, those watching via the online streaming service will hope the match may emulate some of the thrilling contests in recent seasons. These included the 39-37 win for the Blues on Boxing Day 2016 in front of 4,700 supporters, again via a last-gasp try, and a 29-33 Jersey win in February 2018.
Overall the teams have met 16 times in league and cup encounters since the Reds reached the Championship in 2012, with nine Jersey wins to seven by the Blues.
Both clubs are set to feature in a new Championship podcast launched this week and accessible via the @ChampClubsPod Twitter site or directly via the link below:
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v Bedford Blues (A) – Greene King IPA Championship, Round 4/11, Goldington Road, Saturday March 27th 2021, k-o 1pm (* = debut)
Brendan Owen; Tom Williams, Scott Van Breda, Jack Roberts, Darren Atkins; Brendan Cope, James Elliott; Dan Richardson, Jack Macfarlane, Ciaran Parker, Zak Farrance, Macauley Cook, Josh Bainbridge, Lewis Wynne (capt), Max Argyle
George Edgson , Roy Godfrey, Jack Higgins *, Rory Bartle, Kyle Hatherell, Cameron Nordli Kelemeti, Bader Pretorius, Dan Barnes