Jersey secure third

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Against a game but slow Tunbridge Wells side on Saturday they played power-pack rugby in the first 40 minutes and scored a delightful collection of tries, including a sublime run to the line by Ryan Morgan which gave Jersey a 31-0 lead on the stroke of half-time.

Jersey knew that they needed a big score if they were to go ahead of Old Colfeians, who were tied with them, 30 match points all, but with a marginally better points difference.

And if Jersey had carried playing the same way in the second half, they would easily have routed the visitors.

Instead of that the same players – but a completely different team – came out to play.

So, after spoilt line-out, two players sin-binned, 23 penalties conceded and a try to each side in the last 40 minutes, Tunbridge Wells must have been delighted to have stopped a potential massacre.

‘In the first half we didn’t play to our potential, but then we were never allowed to,’ said their head coach, Paul Hathaway.

‘In that time they played in the same way that we did in winning against Old Colfeians, two weeks ago.

That was the match of the season for us.’ For Jersey’s director of rugby, Dai Burton, it was a case of: ‘It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Jersey playing rugby as good as that in the first half.

And don’t underestimate Tunbridge.

They are a good side; but if we could do that every week, even for 40 minutes, we’d blow most other teams away.’ At times the lines of Jersey’s running were awesome.

True, the first try, after three minutes on the right by Latu Maka’afi following a good run by winger Mark Le Mottée, was a question of the visitors being more asleep than awake as the Tongan crashed over.

But then, a quickly taken penalty in the 12th minute by Graham Smith, before the ball was moved to the right again, this time to Mark Le Mottée who darted over, made it 10-0.

Tunbridge already looked lost, and when five minutes later Maka’afi broke blind from the base of a scrum, Le Mottée was clear for his second try, which Smith converted.

Then, in the 29th and 34th minutes, came the best two tries of all.

A long kick from defence was caught by hooker Nathan Kemp in his own half.

The ball was spun left, right, left again, and the Kiwi was on hand to score during which the ball had moved through countless pairs of hands.

Smith’s huge conversion made it 24-0.

The next try was even better.

Again, Tunbridge were mesmerised by the inter-passing before Morgan, with Kemp to his right, dummied twice and dotted over.

Another impressive Smith conversion and Jersey were 31-0 and cruising.

Then the drought set in.

For in a lacklustre second half, the biggest round of applause came when Tunbridge’s big No 3, Steve Harvey, took advantage of his eight-man pack (playing against six, with two in the sinbin) and launched himself over them, from three yards out, to make it 31-5 before full-back Matt Murtagh converted.

There was still time for replacement Jason Hosty to run over the opposition line, only to drop the ball, before at the death Le Mottée defied a last-ditch tackle to score on the right.

Following the opening flood, the second half drought was not pretty to watch but with Old Colfeians beating Andover 25-17, Jersey leapfrogged them in the table by a modest points difference of .




‘We were experimenting,’ said Jersey captain, Steve O’Brien, tongue in cheek afterwards.

‘At half-time I told our players not to allow them any time on the ball; to disrupt their play,’ said Hathaway – and it worked.

As the last game of the season is the Siam Cup in three weeks time, Jersey are trying to fit in a ‘friendly’ fixture in two weeks, possibly against Sidcup.

Winger Ryan Morgan and JRFC captain Steve O’Brien have been selected to play for Hampshire against Dorset and Wiltshire on 28 April.

Collins Stewart squad: Kenwright, Kemp, Chamier, Allo, Quirk, Yayes, Maka’afi, Bell, Miles, Smith, Morgan, White, Allen (J), Le Mottée, O’Brien, Nobes, Henderson, Hosty, Brimelow.

Jersey: Sin-binned: Quirk, Maka’afi, Kemp.

The new minis pitch, purchased through a donation by Richie Brocken, will be named the Titshall-Sauvage pitch, in honour of former players Tommy Titshall and the late John Sauvage.

The former was instrumental in setting up minis rugby; the latter was the gentlest of gentlemen and former groundsman at the club.

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