Biljon expects tough clash in the capital

JERSEY REDS’ director of rugby has stated the side ‘know what to expect’ this Saturday when they visit league leaders Ealing Trailfinders.

Brendan Owen starts at full back against Ealing tomorrow Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (32089547)
Brendan Owen starts at full back against Ealing tomorrow Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (32089547)

Harvey Biljon’s side are on an excellent run of form and could return to the top of the table if they can get their first ever Championship league win at Vallis Way, which has previously eluded the islanders.

Reds are tied with Cornish Pirates on 23 points; three off promotion favourites Ealing and Harvey knows it will be a tough clash.

He said: ‘We know what to expect at Ealing, they are the favourites on Saturday and the team everyone expects to get promoted to the Premiership this season.

‘They are the Saracens of the Championship at the moment and we know it will be tough.

‘Of course we’ve done our due diligence on Ealing, it’s a team we know from over the years now, but we will be focusing on our own game-plan and individual performances. I’m expecting another step-up again from Hartpury and if we play well we’ll cause Ealing some headaches.’

Trailfinders have won the last seven games between the professional outfits in all competitions and Reds fans will have to cast their minds back to a group cup tie away on 11 November 2018 for their last win.

Jersey’s last league win against Ealing was at home in December 2015, and Reds last league triumph in west London was during Reds National One promotion campaign, a 24-16 win back in January 2012.With just three wins in the side’s last 18 clashes, Harvey knows they face an uphill task this weekend.

‘These next six games in six weeks will either make or break our season. We’ve got things back together with two

(Cont on page 57)

good wins and everyone knows we’ve had a disjointed start with fixture breaks but this will be the biggest game,’ he added.

‘We’ve got Ealing, Pirates and Nottingham and Coventry, and we won’t get a break until after our Boxing Day game at Bedford. So we’ve given the guys a rest last week, as it will now be full-on.’

Harvey’s made just three changes in the XV that beat Hartpury 32-17 two weeks ago, with lock Zak Farrance leaving this week for French Pro D2 side Agen.

‘Everything is going ok, we’re still not up to speed bodies and fitness wise but the boys still keep on stepping up so very good,’ said Biljon. ‘Naturally its disappointing to lose Zak because he was part of the plans moving forward and crucial in rotating through that second-row area so its tough. But we can’t not give him a great opportunity so we’ve supported that. At the same time it allows some other players to step-up. There are a few youngsters knocking on the door and a couple of guys here on trial who are pushing to get into the team so lets see.

‘It creates a different enthusiasm and excitement in training around selection, hopefully that’ll pay some dividends too.’

Reds have been a force in the set-piece this season, often preferring a third lock at six.

‘Zak did help us select our teams against different opposition, with Zak’s departure it changes that slightly but on the whole we’ve got a fair bit of confidence in that area of the field at any stage of the game,’ he added.

Elsewhere, Harvey has picked Brendan Owen over Harry Simmons at fullback, stating ‘this game is right to give Owen the start with the permutations we have planned, getting the ball wide to Ryan [Olowofela] and what isn’t planned, that’s the best way to go’.

Provisional Jersey Reds lineup (15-9, 1-8): Brendan Owen, Ryan Olowofela, Jack Roberts, Dan Barnes, Will Brown, Sam Leeming, Jamie Elliott; Roy Godfrey, TJ Harris, Steve Longwell, Shaun O’Connor, Macaulay Cook, Max Argyle, Lewis Wynne (c), Wesley White. Replacements: Eoghan Clarke, James Flynn, Luke Yendle, Alex Humfrey, Guy Thompson, James Mitchell, Tom Pittman, Harry Simmons

Top Stories

More From The Jersey Evening Post

UK & International News