Knockout rugby arrives at Stade Santander International this Friday, with nothing to split Jersey Reds and Hartpury University as they kick off the second leg of their Championship Cup quarter-final.
Both sides racked up massive first-leg leads in the previous round of the cup, resulting in a certain lack of edge in the return matches, but this time the contest sits on a knife-edge following the 19-all draw at the Alpas Arena last Friday.
The Reds played some flowing rugby to establish a 7-19 lead after half an hour of the first game, but were pegged back by their hosts, who combined strong defence with some clinical edge up front to level the scores.
Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon makes minimal changes to his starting XV, but has one welcome returnee as Macauley Cook recovers from injury to join Sean O’Connor in the engine room of an otherwise unchanged starting pack.
The lone adjustment to the back line is at scrum-half, with James Elliott coming in from the bench after swapping places with James Mitchell.
After making way for Cook, Tom Everard switches to the bench in place of Guy Thompson, while another former Hartpury player, Sam Leeming, is added to the replacement roster as Tom Pittman, an unused sub last Friday, misses out.
Leeming was the match-winner when Hartpury claimed their only win in 10 previous meetings between the sides, kicking a late penalty in a 7-10 victory at the Stade in March 2019.
The prize for the winners is a home tie in the semi-final of the competition against the winners of the tie between Coventry and Doncaster Knights, with the visitors from Yorkshire seeking to overcome a 13-point deficit in Sunday’s match at the Butts Park Arena.
Should any knockout ties remain level on aggregate at the end of the second leg, 20 minutes’ extra time will be played, after which try-count across the entire 180 minutes of play would be used as a tie-breaker. A kicking competition featuring three players per side could then be staged if the deadlock remains.
After finishing their regular season schedules last weekend, Jersey’s amateur players have a weekend off before facing back-to-back Siam Cup challenges against their old rivals Guernsey.
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v Hartpury University (H) – Championship Cup Quarter-Final, 2nd Leg, Stade Santander International, Friday May 6th 2022, k-o 7.45pm
Brendan Owen; Scott Van Breda, Jack Roberts, Dan Barnes, Will Brown; Brendan Cope, James Elliott.
James Flynn, Eoghan Clarke, Steve Longwell, Sean O’Connor, Macauley Cook, Max Argyle, Lewis Wynne (capt), Tim Grey.
TJ Harris, Roy Godfrey, Adam Nicol, Tom Everard, Alex Humfrey, Wes White, James Mitchell, Sam Leeming.
Why not come a chillout in the supporters marquee before the game, A fully stocked bar and food is available, seated and standing tables, on a first come first served basis and a great place to meet the Reds supporters.