Biljon expects another tough Coventry test

JERSEY REDS face a ‘well-matched’ Coventry side today, in front of home fans for the second time this season.

RUGBY Jersey Reds v Coventry last Reds try..Picture:DAVID FERGUSON. (30836973)
RUGBY Jersey Reds v Coventry last Reds try..Picture:DAVID FERGUSON. (30836973)

Director of rugby Harvey Biljon said Saturday’s game at St Peter against the West Midlands team would be a ‘tough afternoon for us’, as they were ‘not an easy team to beat’.

Biljon’s team lost to Coventry by just a point in a pre-season friendly (34-33), but he said not too much could be read into that game as both teams made multiple substitutions and changes to give everyone game time.

‘What I can say from it is we are two very well-matched sides,’ said Biljon.

The game on the weekend would involve ‘confrontation’ between the forwards and both sets of backs testing each other. Biljon said: ‘At the moment if you look at the way they are playing, they can play, attack or threaten from anywhere. They are a well-balanced outfit.’

The home team are coming off back-to-back wins over Nottingham and Ampthill, following a ‘tough start’ against the current top three – Ealing Trailfinders, Saracens and Doncaster Knights, and close losses to Bedford Blues and Richmond, despite putting in ‘decent performances’.

‘Since then we have got stronger and stronger,’ said Biljon. The side were on a ‘great run’ and could build on these recent victories, he said, setting up an ‘exciting end to the season’

Coventry currently sit two places above Jersey in the Championship Table, and a win could see the Reds climb above Ampthill to sixth place, after what had been a ‘very bizarre’ shortened season with restrictions and extended stays for away games.

Jack Roberts not being fit for this weekend’s game was a big miss. Biljon said the back had been playing well and was getting ‘better and better’.

‘He brings composure in our back line,’ said Biljon, who added that he hoped Roberts would be back in training next week.

Home advantage was ‘huge’, he said. Jersey Reds ran in nine tries in their win over Nottingham last month, as supporters returned to St Peter for the first time, cheering and rattling cowbells as the home side secured a club record victory.

Biljon said you could see it in the ‘performance and how much it lifted the players on the field’. After Coventry, his side have another home game this season at the end of May against Cornish Pirates, who pulled off an upset against Saracens earlier this season.

Jersey Reds’ impressive 29-14 away win at the beginning of May over Ampthill, who claimed fifth last season, came against a side ‘full of confidence’, packed with premiership and Pro14 experience.

‘Hopefully we get all the supporters behind us this weekend,’ said Biljon, with the director saying he was looking forward to same atmosphere as in the side’s win over Nottingham.

Jersey Reds (1-15, provisional): Dan Richardson, Jake Macfarlane, Ciaran Parker, Sean O’Connor, Macauley Cook, Max Argyle, Matti Williams, Lewis Wynne; Max Green, Bendan Cope; Dan Barnes, Brendan Owen, Tom Williams, Darren Atkins, Scott Van Breda. Replacements: Eoghan Clarke, Ollie Dawe, Jack Higgins, Rory Bartle, Tim Grey, James Elliott, Josh Bainbridge, Bader Pretorius.

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