After a seven-match unbeaten run, Jersey Reds will welcome the last team to beat them to Stade Santander International this Saturday.
London Scottish recovered from a 10-24 half-time deficit in September’s Championship encounter to beat the Reds 27-24 on their home turf, and now the teams will resume their rivalry in round two of the Championship Cup.
Both sides started their cup campaigns with wins, albeit in contrasting circumstances. On Friday night the Exiles faced their Athletic Ground ‘flat-mates’ Richmond in atrocious conditions, producing a heroic rearguard defensive action to hold on in the face of relentless late pressure to win 10-6. On Sunday afternoon, with the artificial surface at Vallis Way in Ealing bathed in sunshine, the Reds scored six of the game’s 10 tries and won the match 34-41.
A new-look Reds’ squad will seek to maintain the club’s recent good form, with just four players who began the Ealing game keeping their places in the starting XV to face Scottish.
Both retained backs switch positions: Brett Herron from fly-half to full-back, and Auguy Slowik vacating the 15 shirt and moving to the wing. Calum Waters and Aaron Penberthy are paired at half-back, Apakuki Ma’afu comes in after being introduced from the bench at Ealing, and fellow centre George Eastwell will enjoy his first competitive action of the season. Summer signing Jack Stapley is selected at left-wing and will make his Reds’ debut.
Lock Charlie Beckett and number 8 Janco Venter are the forwards retained in the starting pack. Venter is joined in the back-row by Graham Geldenhuys and Kyle Hatherell, and Dave McKern starts alongside Beckett in the engine room. A trio of replacements from last Sunday will form the starting front row: Sam Rodman at tight-head, Nick Selway at hooker and Captain Roy Godfrey at loose-head.
The Jersey replacements are set to include prop Zi Alexis, who has been on trial with the Reds in recent weeks. The 22-year-old, whose former clubs include Henley Hawks, London Irish Wild Geese and, most recently, Cambridge, will be looking to make an impact from the bench on his debut. The Reds are awaiting confirmation of their new signing’s successful registration, but are optimistic this process will be completed in time.
The Reds’ bench selection also sets up chances for hooker Jack Macfarlane and scrum-half Hilton Mudariki to impress after limited opportunities during the season so far.
The Exiles’ win over the Reds in September snapped a seven-game losing run at Jersey hands, including three Championship encounters and four encounters in the British & Irish Cup. The two clubs arrived in the Championship one year apart, with London Scottish winning promotion from National 1 in 2011 and the Reds emulating this feat 12 months later. There have been 17 matches between them at this level, with 10 wins for the Reds; however if B&I Cup matches are discounted, the Scots hold a narrow 7-6 advantage.
Two other Reds’ teams will be in action this weekend: Jersey Reds Athletic away to Chinnor on Saturday (k-o 1pm) and Jersey Reds Women away to Amesbury on Sunday.
The link to our online programme will be available at 6pm. Ahead of that you can download a teamsheet HERE
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v London Scottish (H) – Championship Cup Pool 2, Round 2/6, Saturday November 17th, Stade Santander International, k-o 2pm
Roy Godfrey (capt)
Jack Macfarlane, Harry Morley, Zi Alexis, Rory Bartle, Jake Upfield; Hilton Mudariki, James Newey