The latest chapter in a competitive Championship season sees the top four clubs paired together, including a mouthwatering clash between Cornish Pirates and Jersey Reds at the Mennaye Field on Sunday.
With only two more games after this one, the Reds know that they will need a win to keep alive their flickering hopes of the Championship title. The Pirates have two games in hand, on a par with second-placed Ealing Trailfinders, who entertain top-ranked Doncaster Knights at Vallis Way on Saturday.
The Reds hosted Ealing last weekend and were disappointed with a below-par display in the second half that eventually saw them lose 10-22 to the Londoners.
Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon makes three changes to the starting XV which began the match with Ealing, including one in the pack as James Flynn comes in at loose-head prop, Roy Godfrey moving to the bench.
Scrum-halves James Mitchell and James Elliott rotate, with the latter getting the start, while Dan Barnes replaces Jordan Holgate in the inside-centre position.
The Reds’ bench includes back row man Guy Thompson, recovered from injury and in line for his first appearance since the two sides last met in late November.
The visitors will seek to maintain a good run of results at the Mennaye Field, with wins on their three most recent league visits. The sides contested two Championship games at Stade Santander International in 2021: a 15-5 victory in November for the Reds, who also won 32-31 in May in the final match of the truncated 2020/21 season.
As well as being the highest points tally in games between the clubs, the May 2021 match was the only time in 17 league meetings over the past decade that the winners have claimed a try bonus point, while on 12 occasions the defeated side has claimed a losing bonus point. Including four cup encounters, the overall tally is 12 wins to the Reds and nine to the Pirates.
The two sides are separated by just a single point in the current Championship table, having shown contrasting styles thus far. The Pirates’ defence is the meanest in the league, conceding only 31 tries so far, while the Reds are second in terms of tries scored, with 72. The net result is a Jersey tries difference of +26 against +25 for the Cornishmen.
The game will be available to follow via live commentary from BBC Cornwall and BBC Jersey, and also via an online stream which can be accessed, at a cost of £7, via THIS LINK.
After their return from Cornwall, the Reds will have a free weekend at the start of March before the final home league game of 2021/22: Nottingham will visit Stade Santander International on Saturday March 12th, with the game kicking off at 2.45pm.
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v Cornish Pirates (A) – RFU Championship match 18/20, Mennaye Field, Sunday February 27th 2022, k-o 2pm
Brendan Owen; Ryan Olowofela, Scott Van Breda, Dan Barnes, Will Brown; Tom Pittman, James Elliott.
James Flynn, Eoghan Clarke, Steve Longwell, Sean O’Connor, Macauley Cook, Max Argyle, Lewis Wynne (capt), Alun Lawrence.
Harry Doolan, Roy Godfrey, Luke Yendle, Alex Humfrey, Tim Grey, Guy Thompson, James Mitchell, Jack Roberts.
Why not get yourself a Hot Pot (Curry or Chilli served with rice) in the supporters marquee £8 per pot.