Jersey Reds head to sunny Scarborough this weekend, a trip to the renowned seaside resort that will be more of a working holiday than a beach break for these particular visitors. The Reds are looking to complete a full house of wins in the pool stage of this season's British & Irish Cup by getting the better of hosts Yorkshire Carnegie.
A perfect record so far has already earned the Reds a home quarter-final in this season's B&I, but they will be seeking to extend their winning run before resuming their Greene King IPA Championship campaign next weekend.
The challenge is a significant one against a Carnegie side who have won 11 of the 15 matches between the clubs since 2012. The Yorkshiremen currently lie one place outside the qualification threshold for the knock-out stages, but would have a decent chance of making the cut if they could claim a win at Silver Royd, home of Scarborough RUFC.
The match will be the fifth B&I Cup contest between the sides; the Reds won 27-33 at nearby York RUFC in October 2012, but lost 12-27 at home the following January and then were on the wrong end of an agonising 33-32 semi-final defeat at Headingley in March 2016. In the opening match of this season's B&I, a young Carnegie side were beaten 32-3 by Jersey at Stade Santander International.
Head Coach Harvey Biljon has rung the changes for the trip to North Yorkshire, with 10 personnel changes to his starting XV from the line-up that began last Friday's 40-21 home win against the Dragons Select.
The changes include an all-new unit of forwards, with five players promoted from last week's bench: front row trio Roy Godfrey, Jack Macfarlane and Leeroy Atalifo, lock James Voss and flanker Rory Bartle. Dave Mckern partners Voss in the engine room, while Seb Nagle-Taylor and Jake Upfield make up the back row.
In the backs, Oli Bryant comes in at fly-half to replace Brendan Cope, as the top points scorer in the B&I so far this season (53 points) moves to full-back. And there's a welcome return in midfield for George Eastwell, making his first competitive appearance of the season after suffering a head injury in the pre-season match at Harlequins last August. Scott van Breda (co-captaining with Godfrey) moves from full-back to centre to partner Eastwell, with Mark Best providing cover from the bench.
The Reds bench includes a number of players who've been regular starters this season, but there are also opportunities for prop Alec Clarey, who hails from neighbouring County Durham, lock Tom Quarrie and scrum-half Tim Duchesne.
On their return from Scarborough, the Reds will be listening out for news of their opponents for the B&I quarter-final, expected to be played at Stade Santander International on March 30th/31st. But their immediate priority will be the resumption of Greene King IPA Championship action, with a home game against Richmond on Saturday January 27th.
Jersey Reds Athletic play their first home match of 2018 this weekend, with Blackheath Heathens the visitors for a Zoo Shield match kicking off at 1.30pm on Saturday.
Jersey Reds squad v Yorkshire Carnegie (A) - British & Irish Cup Pool 3, Round 6/6, Saturday January 20th, Silver Royd, Scarborough, k-o 2pm
Scott Van Breda (co-capt)
Roy Godfrey (co-capt)
Nick Selway, Jake Woolmore, Alec Clarey, Tom Quarrie, Conor Joyce; Tim Duchesne, Mark Best.
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