After a successful start to their 2022/23 season, Jersey Reds know they will have a target on their back as they host Hartpury University in their opening Championship Cup tie on home turf.
Hartpury were one of the sides overcome by the Reds during an eight-match winning run, and will be keen to improve their record against the Reds, which features just one success in 13 outings since the first encounter in September 2017.
The Reds began their cup campaign away from home, scoring six tries in defeating Nottingham 12-38 at Lady Bay last Sunday.
The coaching team have brought seven new faces into the starting XV for this weekend, with most of the changes in the forwards.
Huw Owen and Monty Weatherby come into the front row and will pack down either side of Eoghan Clarke, while James Scott come into the second row to partner Hamish Bain.
Macauley Cook’s return to action sees the Welshman skipper the side and pack down at blindside flanker, while there’s a first start in the back row for Gloucester loanee Josh Gray. Max Argyle will pack down at number 8 on the final day of his twenties ahead of a big birthday on Sunday.
James Elliott comes in a scrum-half to partner Russell Bennett, while the only other change is Will Brown coming in for Tomi Lewis at wing, meaning Charlie Powell and Dan Barnes team up again in midfield, Ryan Hutler is retained at wing and Brendan Owen holds his place at full-back.
The Reds’ bench includes a potential debut for new signing Hallam Chapman, who arrived on the Island this week to strengthen the back row department which has been affected by injuries to Alun Lawrence and Tim Grey.
Chapman (25) has recently been part of the London Irish squad for games in the Premiership Cup. Born in Devon, he played his first senior rugby for Barnstaple before a move to the north-west, where he played for Sedgley Park and Fylde, as well as representing Lancashire and England Counties. More recently he returned to the south-west and played for Taunton last season.
Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon said: “Hallam is a young player who performed well for London Irish in their recent cup games and now has the opportunity to earn more game time in Jersey and to further develop his game.”
Former fly-half for both sides Sam Leeming landed the crucial kick in March 2019 for a 7-10 Hartpury success, one of several close games between the sides over the years.
The teams were again evenly-matched when they last met at the Alpas Arena just a fortnight ago. The Reds led 0-12 at the break, but the home side rallied while having a player in the sin-bin soon after the resumption and pulled the deficit back to just two points. But the visitors struck twice through Alex McHenry and Tomi Lewis and eventually won 17-27.
Prior to the 2pm kick-off, the teams and spectators will fall silent to remember those who gave their lives in active service ahead of Remembrance Day.
The Reds’ first three-game block of Championship Cup fixtures will conclude with an away game at Ealing on Saturday November 19th. This will be followed by a weekend off, and then a return to league action with Richmond visiting the Stade on Saturday December 3rd.
Jersey Reds squad v Hartpury University (H) – 2022/23 Championship Cup Pool A, game 2/6, Stade Santander International, Saturday November 12th, k-o 2pm (* = debut)
Brendan Owen; Ryan Hutler, Charlie Powell, Dan Barnes, Will Brown; Russell Bennett, James Elliott.
Huw Owen, Eoghan Clarke, Monty Weatherby, Hamish Bain, James Scott, Macauley Cook (capt), Josh Gray, Max Argyle.
James Hadfield, Sam Grahamslaw, Steve Longwell, Tom Everard, Hallam Chapman*; Jonny Law, Jordan Holgate, Ben Woollett.
18 May 2023
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