Jersey Reds face Championship new boys Hartpury in their first away trip of the new campaign, with both sides looking for their first win of 2017/18.
The Reds suffered a narrow and frustrating loss in their league opener last weekend at Stade Santander International, defeated 24-26 by Doncaster Knights. Hartpury faced the toughest possible challenge for their first match since promotion as champions of National 1, taking on Bristol at Ashton Gate and achieving what was seen by many as a respectable scoreline, losing 26-15 having been ahead at half-time.
It is the first encounter between the sides, with Hartpury having emulated the Reds' upward progress in the league pyramid, earning a series of promotions since first entering the RFU structure in 2004. Last season's title-winning campaign was the culmination of three years at National 1 level, and before that the Gloucestershire side spent four seasons in National Two South.
The closest Hartpury and the Reds have come to each other previously was at Twickenham in May 2010. Jersey contested the National Three Champions Final, beating Ampthill, while Hartpury were in action on the same stage, winning the equivalent trophy for level six.
Head Coach Harvey Biljon has made four changes, all among the forwards, to his starting XV from the line-up defeated by Doncaster last weekend. Fijian international Leeroy Atalifo will start at tight-head, having made his debut last Saturday as a replacement, while another sub from the Knights' game, Jared Saunders, will pack down alongside him at hooker. Summer signing Rory Pitman has recovered from an injury sustained against RC Vannes in pre-season and will start at number 8, with Max Argyle dropping to the bench. Hooker Nick Selway is also among the replacements, with Jack Macfarlane and Seb Nagle-Taylor missing out this week.
Former Hartpury player James Voss was originally selected for the Reds against his former club, and set to line up against two other graduates of Jersey's mini and junior section - hooker Luke Stratford and wing Harry Cochrane, named in the Hartpury squad. But Voss was ruled out on Friday afternoon when he was unwell prior to the team's afternoon flight to Cardiff. Dave McKern was promoted to the bench, with Rory Bartle - another Hartpury old boy - added to the replacements and in line to make his competitive debut for the Reds after signing from London Scottish this summer.
James Voss (left) and Luke Stratford (right) celebrate Jersey's win at Bedford in 2014 to secure Championship survival with Jack Burroughs and Jon Brennan
The Reds will return to action on home turf next week when they will take on Cornish Pirates under the Friday Night Lights at Stade Santander International (kick-off 7.45pm). Advance tickets are available from the Eventbrite site - LINK
Jersey Reds squad v Hartpury RFC (A) - Greene King IPA Championship, Round 2/22, Saturday September 9th, Gillman's Ground, Hartpury College; k-o 2.30pm
Scott van Breda (capt)
Roy Godfrey, Nick Selway, Jake Armstrong, Rory Bartle, Max Argyle; Joel Dudley, Ellis Abrahams
17 Nov 2022
Old rivals both seek to stretch start-of-season winning run to 10 games