Jersey Reds are aiming to set up a shot at end-of-season silverware this weekend, but know they must overcome the considerable hurdle of Leinster 'A' to keep their British & Irish Cup dreams alive.
The Reds go into Saturday's B&I semi-final at Stade Santander International determined to erase the memory of previous disappointment in the tournament. After a single-point loss to another Irish side, Munster 'A', in the final exactly 12 months ago, and defeat by the same margin to Yorkshire Carnegie at the semi-final stage in 2016, there'll be no lack of resolve in the home dressing room.
Opponents Leinster 'A' have won the B&I twice in the competition's eight-year history and the Irish province are looking to progress to another final on the same day their 1st team are striving to reach the European Champions Cup final by beating the Scarlets at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
The two sides have met four times previously in the B&I, with the Reds defeated on each occasion though only narrowly in the two contests on home turf: 12-16 during the Island side's first season at this level, 2012/13, when the Irish side went on to their first B&I title, and then by 21-22 in January 2015.
The Reds are aiming for a bumper home crowd will approach or even surpass the high point of the season so far when 2,174 spectators watched the Championship clash with Bristol in October, and hope some vocal home support will provide a 16th man for their team.
Jersey's line-up is identical to the one which contested the B&I quarter-final against Doncaster Knights three weeks ago, when the visitors from Yorkshire were defeated 22-10.
A number of players missing from last week's Championship match against Nottingham have returned to the fray. In the backline, wing Jason Worrall and centre pairing Apakuki Ma'afu and Mark Best are restored to the team, while five players revert to the starting pack after beginning the Nottingham game on the bench: the front row trio of Jake Woolmore, Nick Selway and Jake Armstrong, Rory Bartle at lock and Conor Joyce in the back row.
A busy day's rugby for the home club will include matches for Jersey Reds Athletic, who take on Cinderford at Les Quennevais at 1pm, and Jersey Reds Women, who will take on the touring Belfast Barbarians on pitch 4 at 5pm. There'll be an extra marquee for supporters to enjoy the pre-match atmosphere, as well as enjoying some live music after the game, and tickets to the big game are just £12 on the day for adult spectators, £7 for students and free to under 18s.
The winners of the semi-final will take on the winner of the Ealing Trailfinders v Bedford Blues tie in the final - venue TBC - on the second weekend of May.
Jersey Reds squad v Leinster 'A' (H) - British & Irish Cup semi-final, Saturday April 21st, Stade Santander International, k-o 3pm
Scott Van Breda (co-capt)
Jake Woolmore (co-capt)
Jared Saunders, Roy Godfrey, Leeroy Atalifo, Uili Kolo'ofa'i, Jake Upfield; Joel Dudley, George Eastwell.
07 Dec 2022
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