Forwards master class in Reds win

A NEAR-DOMINANT display by Jersey Reds’ forwards saw the Islanders end their nine-game winless drought in style against ill-disciplined Bedford.

Debutant Darren Atkins Jersey scores the try to seal Jersey Reds first win of the season Picture: KEN SPARKS/UK SPORTS PICS
Debutant Darren Atkins Jersey scores the try to seal Jersey Reds first win of the season Picture: KEN SPARKS/UK SPORTS PICS

A late try by Bath-loanee Darren Atkins completed the win to give Reds their first points in the Championship this season, lifting them off joint-bottom of the table.

Jersey won’t mind that the second half didn’t quite live up to expectations, with the previous five clashes between the sides at Goldington Road since 2016 being narrow nailbiters, each with four or less points in it.

Biljon stated he was ‘absolutely pleased’ with the win, Reds’ first for 14 months since a 56-17 home victory against then-relegated Yorkshire Carnegie.

Jersey – clearly fired up after back-to-back defeats in the capital to Saracens and Richmond – were deep in Bedford’s territory from kick-off and unlucky to not score from a driving maul on the 7th minute.

Reds playmaker Brendan Cope opened up the scoring as Jersey showed their scrum advantage, and the Islanders were unlucky to not score several times. A catch-and-drive on the 16th minute went into touch and in a second effort, Jersey’s pack were held up by some questionable tactics.

Blues loosehead Joe Wrafter was sin-binned on the 20th minute for killing the ball as Jersey’s maul splintered. Reds capitalised immediately with the man advantage, Reds tighthead Ciaran Parker scoring from within a pile of bodies going over the whitewash.

Despite being on the back foot, Bedford’s nous and clinical edge in their back-line got them back into the game, scoring the first time they were in Jersey’s 22-metre area.

Flyhalf Tommy Mathews levelled the score via his boot after Jersey were penalised twice for being offside.

Blues then took the lead when centre Reuben Bird-Tulloch broke from deep, split the Reds defence and offloaded a peach of a pass for Ryan Olowofela to skip Jack Roberts’ last-man challenge and dot down under the posts.

The home side extended their lead to 17-10 after some neat link-up play between scrum-half Ewan Fenley and wing Matt Worley, whose well-timed pass took out last defender Brendan Owen for skipper Rich Lane to slide in on the left.

Jersey retook the lead, hooker Jack Macfarlane scoring off a catch-and-drive and despite some good play by the backs as Cope started to pull the strings nicely not giving the visitors another try, Cope’s boot made Blues forwards pay for not rolling away on the cusp of half-time.

Jersey threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Blues in the second half, dominating territory and possession in spite of Bedford being in their preferred home mode of attacking down the slope.

Cope missed a penalty ten minutes after the restart and the introduction of debutant Jack Higgins was key as Reds continued to dominate against a Blues side tying themselves in knots and unable to not give penalties away.

But it took Jersey nearly another half-hour before they added to their score.

It wasn’t until tighthead Ed Prowse, and his replacement Rob Hardwick two minutes later on the hour-mark, were both sin-binned for repeated infringements at the scrum that Reds were able to extend their lead against 13-men Bedford – Cope opening up Atkins, who shoved off the attentions of lock Lewis Bean to power through and score on the left.

With the game having to endure uncontested scrums, Reds continued to push for the elusive fourth bonus-point try, but after it worked well all game they lost their last line-out and Bedford countered before replacement Will Maisey penalty got the Blues a losing bonus-point at the end.

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