Jersey Reds are looking to sneak a 16th ‘player’ onto the pitch this weekend, in the shape of Mo Mentum, as they seek to maintain the form shown in their most recent outing.
Buoyed by a return to their home turf for the first time in 14 months, in front of just over 1,000 supporters at Stade Santander International, the Reds scored nine tries in defeating Nottingham 55-12 last Saturday.
But the Island side know their last game will be meaningless when they run out at the Grange Jaguar-Land Rover Bowl to take on an Ampthill team who have shown a genuine ability to compete at tier two during their short period in the Greene King IPA Championship.
After promotion in 2019, the Bedfordshire side finished fifth, two places above the Reds, in the final rankings for the truncated 2019/20 season, and they are also reasonably placed in the current campaign, sitting in sixth position with four rounds to go.
The home side may note the Reds’ big win last weekend, but they’ll also flag up a notable result of their own last weekend, having won at a notoriously challenging venue: by 18-20 at the Mennaye Field against Cornish Pirates on Saturday.
Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon will field an unchanged starting XV for the game, looking for another strong performance from those who stood out against Nottingham, and there’s just one change on the Reds’ bench, as a move to a 5:3 split of forwards to backs means winger Darren Atkins comes in for back row man Josh Bainbridge.
Although the 2019/20 season was cancelled before Ampthill had the chance to travel to the Channel Islands, the teams did meet at the Grange Bowl in a lively encounter that featured a dozen tries and finished 38-47 to the Reds.
Prior to last season, the two clubs had played twice before in 1st XV games. At the end of the 2009/10 season, each was champion of their respective division at level 5, then referred to as National 3, and after winning semi-finals they were paired on the grandest of rugby stages – Twickenham – in the national final.
The encounter at ‘HQ’ was a memorable day, with the Reds winning a tight match by 21-12 thanks to tries by Ashley Elphinston, Ed Dawson and Ashley Maggs, plus two penalties from Dan Hawkes.
In August 2016 Ampthill travelled to Jersey for a pre-season fixture which was again tightly fought, with the Reds outscoring their opponents by five tries to three and winning 35-22. Two current Jersey players featured in the game: hooker Jack Macfarlane, who raced over for a try from 30 metres out, and flanker Max Argyle.
There will be no social media coverage of the match via either club’s website as a result of Championship clubs joining other sporting organisations in the Draw The Line campaign, a social media blackout aimed to highlight online abuse, that will last from 3pm on Friday until 11.59pm on Monday. Find out more HERE
However the match will be able to be viewed live, with the streaming service – priced at £10 – operated via the Championship website. There will also be regular updates on BBC Radio Jersey, broadcast on FM and AM frequencies and online via the BBC Sounds website.
See the Ampthill preview and team news HERE
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v Ampthill (A) – Greene King IPA Championship, Round 8/11, Grange Jaguar-Land Rover Bowl, Dillingham Park, Saturday May 1st 2021, k-o 1.45pm
Scott Van Breda; Tom Williams, Jack Roberts, Dan Barnes, Brendan Owen; Brendan Cope, Max Green; Dan Richardson, Jack Macfarlane, Ciaran Parker, Sean O’Connor, Macauley Cook, Max Argyle, Lewis Wynne (capt), Matti Williams.
Eoghan Clarke, Ollie Dawe, Jack Higgins, James Scott, Tim Grey, James Elliott, Bader Pretorius, Darren Atkins.