Jersey Reds will be looking to maintain their recent league form when they make their debut in a brand new cup competition this weekend.
The Championship Cup has been launched to fill the vacuum left by the British & Irish Cup, and the Reds will start with one of the toughest tests at this level - an away trip to Ealing Trailfinders. The West London side have made a strong start to the Greene King IPA Championship season, winning seven of their nine matches to lie in second place in the table as teams switch their focus to cup action.
Jersey have accumulated six wins, one fewer than their hosts, and lie third in the league table. The victories have come in a hot streak over the past six weekends, crowned by a fine win over previously unbeaten league leaders London Irish at Stade Santander International last Saturday. The 17-14 win, crowned by a last-gasp try from Auguy Slowik, has made it onto the international radar this week, partly due to Slowik's first try, which followed a spectacular counter-attack, launched by scrum-half Will Homer from behind his own posts.
In seeking to maintain the winning run, Reds' Head Coach Harvey Biljon has resisted the urge to make too many changes to his squad.
Two of the four changes to the starting XV are in the backs, with Jason Worrall replacing Koch Marx on the wing and Brett Herron selected at fly-half in place of Aaron Penberthy. And in the forwards, Roy Godfrey returns for his first start in five weeks, after a strong showing as an impact replacement against the Exiles, while Charlie Beckett starts in the second row alongside Jerry Sexton, who retains the captaincy after leading the side in recent weeks.
Harry Morley and Dave McKern are the forwards who make way, and both will be ready on the bench, where there is one 'new' face - a welcome return after injury for Tongan international centre Apakuki Ma'afu.
The six rounds of the Championship Cup will be played in one block, with the Reds looking to repeat their record in the past three seasons, which saw them reach the semi-finals of the B&I Cup twice, and the final once. As well as Ealing, the Reds will do battle in the pool stage with Richmond and London Scottish - the Athletic Ground 'flat-mates' will kick off the competition on Friday night.
The 12 Championship teams will be getting to grips - literally - with an amended law for this season's cup competition. In collaboration with World Rugby, the amendment to Law 9.13 will operate, altering the definition of a high tackle from above the line of the shoulders to above the armpit line in a trial aimed to combat the number of concussion and other head injuries to rugby players. For more information see HERE
After an excellent home win over Barnes in the Zoo Shield last weekend, Jersey Reds Athletic have another home game, with Esher the visitors on Saturday. The game kicks off at 12.30pm, with England v New Zealand (k-o 3pm) to be screened live afterwards.
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v Ealing Trailfinders (A) - Championship Cup Pool 2, Round 1/6, Sunday November 11th, Trailfinders Sports Ground, Vallis Way, k-o 2pm
Leroy Van Dam
Jerry Sexton (capt)
Nick Selway, Harry Morley, Sam Rodman, Dave McKern, Kyle Hatherell; Calum Waters, Apakuki Ma'afu.
18 May 2023
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