Jersey head to Bedford this weekend, aiming to demonstrate that the top four in this season's Greene King IPA Championship is anything but a done deal.
Host club Bedford Blues are currently third-ranked in the Championship standings, and along with leaders Bristol, second-placed Doncaster Knights and Yorkshire Carnegie (fourth), are lined up for the end-of-season play-offs.
But there are still seven games for all clubs to play, and sixth-placed Jersey are among the clubs looking to rattle the top-four cage.
To do this, the Islanders will need to extend their narrow advantage in games over the Blues at this level - Jersey have won four of the seven matches thus far. The most recent encounter was the 34-27 win at St Peter in October, with each side claiming a bonus point in a game featuring seven tries.
Overturning Bedford on their home turf at Goldington Road will be a massive challenge for the visiting side - the Blues have won seven straight straight matches and in their last home game ran in nine tries to inflict the largest defeat of the Championship season, 64-20, on London Welsh.
Jersey's starting line-up features four changes from the side which defeated Moseley 22-18 at St Peter last Saturday. Three of the switches are in the forwards, with Simon Kerrod and Martin Garcia-Veiga coming into the front row; tight-head Kerrod makes his first start since arriving in Jersey a month ago. In the second row Pierce Phillips is absent following a knock sustained against Moseley, which means a welcome return for Nick Campbell, whose last 1st XV action was against Nottingham in late October.
The final change to the XV is at fly-half, where Brendan Cope returns in place of Aaron Penberthy.
Jersey's bench includes a return to the squad for loose-head Sean McCarthy, who is alongside front row colleagues Nick Selway and Danny Herriott. The remaining replacements are those who featured in the squad against Moseley.
The entire Jersey 1st XV squad will be attending the Bedford match, with players sharing the additional travelling costs of the 14 people not involved in the match-day squad so that they can cheer on the side prior to a team social in London on Saturday evening.
After a weekend off, Jersey will return to action with a Championship match against London Welsh at St Peter on Saturday February 27th (kick-off 2pm).
Returning Jersey players Brendan Cope and Nick Campbell are pictured below, by Sue Armes, alongside captain Alex Rae in the match against Bedford last October
Jersey squad v Bedford Blues (A) - GKIPA Championship, Saturday February 13th, Goldington Road, k-o 3pm
Alex Rae (capt)
03 Feb 2023
Home side look to improve poor record over London rivals