Spoiled by the prospect of another outing in front of their home support, Jersey Reds will be seeking a third consecutive league win this Saturday.
Coventry will be the visitors to Stade Santander International and will present a tough challenge to the home side having won two of the three Greene King IPA Championship matches between the sides in the past two seasons.
After a convincing win over Nottingham at the Stade three weeks ago, the Reds backed up the result with a 14-29 success at Ampthill on May 1st, and once again Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon makes minimal changes to his squad.
Centre Jack Roberts is the only man missing from the starting XV which took on Ampthill, with his absence through injury leaving Brendan Owen – the club’s leading try-scorer this season with five so far – to move from wing to outside centre and Darren Atkins to come in on the wing.
The starting pack is unchanged and includes two players – prop Dan Richardson and flanker/skipper Lewis Wynne – who have started every league match so far this season. And there are just two changes on the bench, with Atkins and second row James Scott replaced by Josh Bainbridge and Rory Bartle, with Biljon opting for a 6:2 split of forwards and backs.
The two sides have met already this season having contested a pre-season match at Butts Park Arena in February that featured 11 tries and a 34-33 win for the home side.
Starting this season against Cov seemed appropriate for the Reds, as the two clubs also faced up in the opening rounds of the last two Championship seasons.
Back in the second-tier after an eight-year absence, the Blue-and-Whites hosted visitors from Jersey in September 2018 and marked the occasion with a 20-15 win, having fallen behind during the early stages. The Midlanders eventually finished eighth, belatedly discovering an ability to win away from home in the final eight days of the season with victories over Doncaster at Castle Park and at Stade Santander by 23-36 against the Reds.
Last season the teams met just once as a result of the pandemic, with the opening round of the Championship seeing Jersey revenge in the form of a 22-15 bonus point win. Greg Dyer and Nic Dolly scored two tries apiece, the latter – on loan from Sale Sharks at the time – subsequently joining Cov briefly in 2020 before moving across to Leicester Tigers in March this year. Rory Jennings, another to have played for both clubs, scored his side’s points with five successful penalty attempts.
The clubs’ first encounters in a league context took place in 2011/12, the season in which the Reds achieved promotion to the Championship, with a brace of comfortable wins: 29-3 at home, and then a 13-37 triumph at the Butts that clinched the National One title with a game to spare.
Hoping to surpass the 1,031 attendance from the Nottingham game, the Reds will once again be asking supporters to buy tickets online in advance [via THIS LINK], with no admission on the gate to those without tickets. It will also be possible to watch a live stream via the Championship website at a cost of £10.
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v Coventry Rugby (H) – Greene King IPA Championship, Round 9/11, Stade Santander International, Saturday May 15th 2021, k-o 3pm
Scott Van Breda; Darren Atkins, Brendan Owen, Dan Barnes, Tom Williams; Brendan Cope, Max Green; Dan Richardson, Jack Macfarlane, Ciaran Parker, Sean O’Connor, Macauley Cook, Max Argyle, Lewis Wynne (capt), Matti Williams.
Eoghan Clarke, Ollie Dawe, Jack Higgins, Rory Bartle, Tim Grey, James Elliott, Josh Bainbridge, Bader Pretorius.