Jersey Reds are chomping at the bit to start the second half of their season on home turf this Saturday.
After five weeks without a home game, the Reds go from a festive famine to a new year feast of rugby at Stade Santander International, which will host four games over the next five weekends.
First up is the visit of Nottingham for a contest that promises to be every bit as close as the Greene King IPA Championship suggests. Both sides have won six of their 10 league games to date, and while the Green and Whites also achieved a draw, in their pre-Christmas game with Coventry, the Reds have the edge on bonus points and lie fifth in the table, one place and one point above their visitors.
The home side have had three weeks' break since the narrow defeat at Ealing Trailfinders just before Christmas, and after a 10-day breather the squad returned to training on January 2nd to work off any festive excesses. They were also heartened this week by confirmation that Assistant Coach Neil Tunnah had agreed a new deal to stay with the Reds alongside fellow coaches Harvey Biljon and Ed Robinson.
Head Coach Biljon makes five changes to the starting XV which lined up against Ealing. Two are up front, with Harry Morley starting at loose-head and Charlie Beckett selected in the second row alongside Jerry Sexton, who will captain the side.
Mark Best will be absent from midfield after an injury against Trailfinders, so James Newey comes in to partner Apakuki Ma'afu. Brett Herron is chosen to start at fly-half, with Aaron Penberthy switching to the bench, and there's a welcome return on the wing for Koch Marx, out of action since being forced from the field in the early stages of the Reds' league win over London Irish in early November.
Last season, Nottingham and the Reds drew 19-apiece at Lady Bay in December and then contested a helter-skelter game at Stade Santander International in April. The visitors led 7-29 after half an hour, but thereafter failed to trouble the scorers again, while the Reds racked up no fewer than eight tries in total to finish the end-of-season frolic winners by 50-29.
In total, Jersey have seven wins to Nottingham's four in the 12 encounters to date, with one draw. Only four of the 12 games have been won by the home side.
Jersey Reds Athletic travel to Rams Titans on Saturday (k-o 1pm) looking to maintain some impressive recent form that has included successive wins over Ampthill, Cambridge and Bishop's Stortford. Jersey Reds Women are also in action on the mainland, and take on Southampton at 12.30pm on Saturday.
For the online programme, click HERE
For a downloadable team-sheet, click HERE
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v Nottingham Rugby (H) - Greene King IPA Championship, Round 11/22, Saturday January 12th, Stade Santander International, k-o 3pm
Leroy Van Dam
Jerry Sexton (capt)
Nick Selway, Roy Godfrey, Sam Rodman, Kyle Hatherell, Jake Upfield; Hilton Mudariki, Aaron Penberthy.
Why not get yourself a Hot Pot (Curry or Chilli served with rice) in the supporters marquee £8 per pot.