After a slightly disjointed season, Jersey Reds are looking to translate impressive form on their travels last weekend into a convincing display on home turf.
The Reds are well-placed in the Championship rankings, currently lying third after three wins and a draw from their first five games. Their determination going into the home clash with Hartpury is to emulate last Saturday’s impressive win at Richmond, and in the process to erase the memory of a disappointing outing against Ampthill – it finished 17-apiece – at Stade Santander International the previous week.
Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon makes four changes in personnel to his starting XV, plus a positional switch, from the line-up which began the 20-26 win at Richmond last time out.
After an injury to centre Jordan Holgate at the Athletic Ground, Dan Barnes is promoted to the starting XV, while rotation at scrum-half sees James Mitchell get the start while James Elliott warms the bench.
Also on the bench after an impressive 80-minute stint last weekend is hooker Eoghan Clarke, with TJ Harris coming back after injury to start. At tight-head prop, Steve Longwell comes in for his home debut, replacing Luke Yendle. And Max Argyle returns to the back row, resulting in Macauley Cook switching to second row in place of Zak Farrance.
Tim Grey, one of the Red replacements who helped nail down the result against Richmond, misses out on a place on the bench this week due to injury. The back row man’s place is taken by fly-half Tom Pittman, who made his debut against Doncaster Knights last month.
Hartpury’s league visits to Stade Santander International have been close affairs, with an 18-14 home success in December 2017, followed by a Hartpury win in March 2019, when Sam Leeming (who joined the Reds in 2020 after a season at Bedford) broke a 7-7 tie with a penalty in the dying minutes. Most recently, the Reds led by just a point (14-13) at half-time in a Championship Cup tie in December 2019, but eventually won 33-20.
The Reds are undefeated in five visits Hartpury’s home patch, following the maiden voyage in 2017 when the Gloucestershire side lost their first-ever Championship match 19-20. A thumping 14-52 win followed the season after and then a far closer encounter, this time in the Championship Cup, in September 2019, when it finished 13-24.
A late mauled try by TJ Harris led to another win away from home in January 2020, while the most recent meeting came at the Alpas Arena in the penultimate round of the truncated 2020/21 campaign, with the Reds racking up eight tries, including a Tom Williams’ hat-trick, to finish winners by 19-50.
A big day for Jersey Reds also features three encounters away from home against old rivals Guernsey Raiders. The clubs’ Vets sides will contest the Nash Cup at 11am, followed by the Ladies Siam at 1pm and then the battle for one of rugby’s oldest trophies at the Raiders and the Reds face off at 5pm.
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v Hartpury University (H) – RFU Championship, Match 6/20, Stade Santander International, Saturday November 6th 2021, k-o 2.15pm
Harry Simmons; Ryan Olowofela, Jack Roberts, Dan Barnes, Will Brown; Sam Leeming, James Mitchell; James Flynn, TJ Harris, Steve Longwell, Sean O’Connor, Macauley Cook, Max Argyle, Lewis Wynne (capt), Wesley White.
Eoghan Clarke, Huw Owen, Jack Higgins, Alex Humfrey, Guy Thompson; James Elliott, Tom Pittman, Brendan Owen.
Why not come a chillout in the supporters marquee before the game, A fully stocked bar and food is available, seated and standing tables, on a first come first served basis and a great place to meet the Reds supporters.