A festival of rugby
JERSEY REDS U12s hosted over 100 boys in a round-robin festival on Sunday, with two teams each from Bath, Brighton and Jersey.
The weather at St Peter played a significant part in the overall day, with rain lashing down at the start, followed by beautiful sunshine. Standards were high througout, with Brighton, in particular, showing a sharp edge in both defence and attack.
Jersey, fielding their Lions and Tigers squads, grew into the challenge presented by the visitors.
The Lions struggled in their opener against Bath Lions, but there was a far more competitive second half, with some ferocious tackling led by Jack Stevens and James Edey, while Charlie Brennan launched attacks from deep. A defeat, but encouraging signs.
Tigers opened against Brighton Sheriffs and failed to get out of their 22 in the first half, though they, too, defended well. Brighton scored just before half time, but although Jersey again conceded early, from a long-range try, concerted pressure had Harvey Sanders snipe-in from the base of a ruck to make it an exciting finish.
Tigers then faced Brighton Lightyears, drawing 2-2 in another close encounter, with the stand out moment being Joseph Stoten intercepting a pass on the half-way line then galloping away from a chasing Bath side.
The Lions faced a huge Brighton Lightyears, but took the game to the visitors, even after conceding an early try. Jersey’s defence was immense.
The second half was just as close, though the visitors finally broke away to score in the corner. The Lions never gave up, but the score they deserved failed to come. But the seed of belief had been sown.
The Lions’ final game, against an unbeaten Brighton side, produced a stupendous 2-2 draw. Really strong defence and some wonderful passing resulted in a tight encounter, while a barnstorming run from James Edey changed the whole momentum of the game. Trailing 2-1 with a few minutes to go, Celyn Thomas intercepted and streaked away to score a deserved equaliser.
The final game for the Tigers, against Bath Lions, took them to another another level. The Tigers definitely saved the best for last, with strong running, magnificent defence and great game management putting Bath on the back foot from the opening moments. Ethan Huish led the pack with some crunching tackles and Freddie Bracken-Smith displayed great nous to score a try from a quickly-taken penalty. Joe Stoten quickly followed up with a second try.
A crossfield kick was fielded by Owen Graham inside the Jersey half and he accelerated forward, outside of the defence, to set up a foot race to the line – which he won.
The final play of the match featured Saif using his fantastic strength to get over from short range. Touching down, the game was Jersey’s, 4-1.
Jersey Reds U15s, winners of Sussex League 3 this season, took on League II Heathfield & Waldron in a friendly at St Peter last weekend, with the hosts winning a tough encounter 26-22.
Given that the visitors had enjoyed four victories from seven games in the higher division, this was a tremendous result for the Jersey boys, who, although they scored after five minutes, generally struggled against Heathfield’s aggressive style of play and were trailing at half time.
Heathfield’s passion, however, turned to indiscipline on a couple of occasions in the second half, while the Reds simply got on with the job and were rewarded with victory.
Jersey U15s: Alex Gibson, Ben Purkiss, Daniel Worley, David Quinn, Davy Savery, Harry Walton, Henry Dawson, Jake Savery, Kristian Inns, Lawrence Bouchard, Ollie Cawley, Seb Lilley, Toby Clark, Tom Baker, Tyler Griffiths, Theo Williams and & Aidan Loane. Coaches: Stephen de Ste Croix and Wayne Boschat. Manager: Mich Clark. Referee: Piers Tharme.