Jersey Reds will be determined not to let the tag of favourites influence their performance in the second leg of a cup tie this weekend.
As well as finishing the recently-completed Championship season seven places above their opponents, the Reds will run out at the Richmond Athletic Ground with a 43-point lead over London Scottish after scoring nine tries in a 57-14 win at Stade Santander International.
Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon has made multiple changes to his starting line-up from the first leg, challenging his new-look XV to replicate the dominant display of two weeks ago and force their way into contention for quarter-final places in the squad.
Lock Sean O’Connor is the only member of the forward pack to gain a repeat selection, captaining the side and being joined in the engine room by Tom Everard.
In the front row, Roy Godfrey will complete a century of Jersey appearances in the closing weeks of his fifth and final season with the Reds before retiring from professional rugby this summer. Godfrey will pack down alongside TJ Harris and Adam Nicol. At the back of the scrum, Guy Thompson starts at number 8, with Wes White and Alex Humfrey lining up on either flank.
Among the backs, centre Dan Barnes, wing Ryan Olowofela and full-back Scott Van Breda will start for the second successive game. James Mitchell and Brendan Cope form a new half-back duo, while Tom Pittman partners Barnes in midfield and Will Brown returns at left wing.
In a decade of rivalry in the second tier, the Reds and London Scottish have played 17 league matches, with the Exiles just ahead by 9-8, although the Reds completed the double in this season’s league fixtures. Cup history favours the Island side, who won all four cup ties between the clubs during this period (prior to the current half-completed encounter).
The match at the Richmond Athletic Ground (k-o 2pm) with the winners progressing to a quarter-final tie, also over two legs, against Richmond or Hartpury. Hartpury hold a 35-point lead over the Londoners ahead of hosting the second leg. Should the Reds prevail on aggregate, details of the quarter-final ties will be shared soon after the final whistle.
Saturday sees two matches on home turf for Jersey teams, with Jersey Reds Women hosting Seaford at 11am, followed by Jersey Reds Athletic against Barnes at 2pm. A 400-strong party from the Reds’ mini and junior section was due to head to Guernsey for a series of games making up the Junior Siam festival, which was last staged in 2018, however in a blow for all young players on both islands the event has been postponed as a result of adverse weather conditions causing disruption to inter-island ferry services.
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v London Scottish (A) – Championship Cup 1st Round, 2nd Leg, Richmond Athletic Ground, Saturday April 23rd 2022, k-o 2pm
Scott Van Breda; Ryan Olowofela, Dan Barnes, Tom Pittman, Will Brown; Brendan Cope, James Mitchell.
Roy Godfrey, TJ Harris, Adam Nicol, Tom Everard, Sean O’Connor (capt), Alex Humfrey, Wesley White, Guy Thompson.
Harry Doolan, James Flynn, Luke Yendle, Max Argyle, Lewis Wynne, James Elliott, Sam Leeming, Brendan Owen
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.