Jersey Reds are seeking to register back-to-back league wins for just the second time this season as they head to Goldington Road in Bedford to complete the first half of their Championship campaign.
But the visitors from the Channel Islands know they face a Blues side who have been in excellent form since the turn of the year, with two wins and a narrow 18-15 defeat away to second-placed Cornish Pirates.
Jersey’s form has been more mixed: a pre-Christmas defeat against London Scottish on home turf, followed by a last-gasp win at Hartpury, a home defeat to the Pirates and then a 56-17 win over bottom-placed Yorkshire Carnegie at Stade Santander International last Friday.
Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon makes seven changes to his starting XV from the line-up which began the comfortable win over Carnegie.
Scrum-half Will Homer, centre James Newey and full-back Greg Dyer come into the back division, while there are changes in each row of the scrum. Alec Clarey is back at tight-head, with Zei Alexis moving to the bench, while there’s an opportunity for Liam Hallam-Eames in the second row. Kyle Hatherell moves back from the engine room to blindside, while Janco Venter returns at number 8 after a week off.
Two new loan signings arrived on the Island from Wales this week, and both should have a chance to impress from the bench: Arwel Robson and Connor Edwards will provide cover from the back line along with their former Dragons’ team-mate Luc Jones.
Spectators hope they may be in for another high-scoring treat when these teams meet on the Blues’ home turf. The last three contests have seen 26 tries and points aggregates of 94-92 in Bedford’s favour, with the home side claiming two wins to their rivals’ one.
The overall record in league and cup matches since the Reds reached the Championship is nine wins to the Reds and six to the Blues.
On their return from Bedford the Reds will focus on another tough assignment as they prepare to host Ealing Trailfinders on Saturday February 8th. Kick-off at Stade Santander International will be at 2pm, with the Calcutta Cup game between Scotland and England following on the big screens at 4.45pm. To take advantage of early-bird ticket prices (available until 2pm on Thursday), click HERE.
Both other Reds teams are in away action this weekend – the Athletic take on Bishops Stortford in the Raging Bull Shield at 1pm on Saturday, while exactly 24 hours later the Women’s XV will be in action at Tonbridge Juddians.
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v Bedford Blues (A) – Greene King IPA Championship, Round 11/22, Goldington Road, Saturday February 1st 2020, k-o 3pm
Leroy Van Dam
Josh Bainbridge (capt)