Jersey Reds will look to atone for an off-colour display last weekend when they welcome Bedford Blues to their home turf this Saturday.
The Reds returned with nothing to show from their trip to the Richmond Athletic Ground last Saturday - the first time in 18 Greene King IPA Championship matches, stretching back to early October 2016, that they'd failed to garner at least a point.
In seeking to bounce back in front of their home supporters at Stade Santander International this weekend, Jersey face a seriously tough test - taking on a Blues side who have been in free-scoring form this season and have a squad likely to be packed with former Reds.
Should Rich Lane, Alex Rae, Michael Le Bourgeois and Sean McCarthy all earn selection against their old club, they would bring a haul of some 340 'caps' for the Island side, along with the motivation to get one over their former employers.
Both clubs have won two of their four games so far this season, but their respective records are nevertheless contrasting ones. Each of the Reds' four games has been decided by a single-figure margin, while the Blues have enjoyed comfortable wins by 18 and 29 points against London Scottish and Richmond, but been soundly beaten by unbeaten table-toppers Ealing Trailfinders (45-25) and Bristol (38-61 last Saturday at Goldington Road). Each side has a for/against try tally of +1, although Bedford have scored 20 tries to Jersey's nine.
Following the disappointing 23-14 reverse against Richmond last weekend, Head Coach Harvey Biljon has opted to give almost the same squad the chance to redeem themselves seven days later.
There is just one player added to the starting XV, with Oli Bryant earning a chance at fly-half after impressing as a replacement last weekend. This means Brendan Cope switches to full-back, Jason Worrall is selected on the wing and Josh Hodson misses out.
Bryant's promotion means a place among the replacements for Ellis Abrahams, while Dave McKern also returns to the bench in place of Seb Nagle-Taylor.
In the continued absence of skipper Scott van Breda, prop Jake Woolmore will lead the team as hooker Jared Saunders relinquishes the captaincy.
Biljon explained: "Jake was introduced into the captains/leadership group last week and with Scott out it made sense to go with a player leading by example with his performances. Jared retains the starting hooker's berth and his main focus will be on this important role."
Last season saw two close-run matches between the teams; the Reds' 14-9 home victory was their fifth successive win in this fixture, but the Blues gained revenge on home turf on Boxing Day. A try by George Perkins and last-kick conversion sealed a 39-37 win in a pulsating match that saw the lead change hands a dozen times.
Overall the Reds have seven wins to Blues' four in matches since Jersey reached the Championship in 2012.
Jersey Reds Athletic, the club's 2nd XV, travel to London this weekend, taking on Blackheath Heathens in a Zoo Sports Shield fixture - kick-off at Well Hall is at 12.30pm.
Jersey Reds squad v Bedford Blues (H) - Greene King IPA Championship, Round 5/22, Saturday September 30th, Stade Santander International; k-o 3pm
Jake Woolmore (capt)
Nick Selway, Roy Godfrey, Leeroy Atalifo, Dave McKern, Rory Bartle; Joel Dudley, Ellis Abrahams
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