Jersey Reds 17
Tries: White 36; Everard 80; Van Breda 80
Conversions: Cope 37
Tries: Nayalo 5; Poole 11
Pens: Fenner 18, 73
Conversions: Fenner 6, 12
H-T: 7-17. Attendance: 671
ON the back of what has been Jersey Reds’ most successful season, there will still be a sense of a missed opportunity among the players and the management as they pack their bags for a well-deserved holiday.
With home advantage, the Reds were favourites to make the final of the Championship Cup but found themselves shell-shocked after conceding two early tries against Coventry.
After an uncharacteristic malaise that lasted a good half hour, the home side pushed and pushed to break down a resolute Coventry, but it all came too late.
The visitors, for their part, were aggressive, determined and armed with a game plan that disrupted the Reds’ flow. Both sides continually conceded penalties but the truth is Jersey gave themselves far too much to do after finding themselves 17 points down with less than a quarter of the match gone.
It could have all been so different.
Just three minutes in it seemed Jersey had got off to a flyer when James Mitchell, with the freedom of the park, coasted over the touchline for a try that was eventually ruled out by referee Dan Jones for offside.
Jones would continue to be a thorn in Jersey’s side as they saw the key decisions go against them, in particularly when Senitike Nayalo could have seen red for a high tackle in the second half.
Nevertheless, there could be no excuse for how they were caught cold moments after Mitchell’s try was ruled out.
On the halfway line, Coventry’s maul pushed Jersey back and Nayalo duly obliged with a sucker punch while the hosts’ defence was nowhere to be seen.
Not long later, Coventry scored their second and last try of the match, in a manner that Jersey have been so successful with themselves. A line-out on the five-metre line was backed up by the maul and their captain, Jordon Poole, applied the finishing touch.
Both tries were converted by their number 10, Tony Fenner, and it was from his boot that Coventry extended their lead – taking advantage of the numerous penalties.
Jersey were struggling to get into any sort of rhythm but with 30 minutes played they eventually had an opportunity to find a breakthrough. However, the away side stood tall against Jersey’s maul, five metres out, and, after things got a little messy, Jones bailed Coventry out by awarding them a penalty.
It was Jersey’s first real threat since Mitchell’s disallowed effort but it was enough to spur them on and push Coventry onto their back foot.
Jersey got their reward with half time looming.
After Coventry continually conceded penalties five metres from their own goal line and Brendan Cope continually kicked into the corner for a line-out, the maul at last did its job and Wes White executed the try.
That might have spurred the Islanders on to complete the comeback in the second half but it was not to be, despite their territorial advantage. Coventry’s resolve proved too much for them, though Cope will be disappointed with himself for spilling the ball just a yard away from scoring.
Two tries in added time, by Tom Everard and Scott Van Breda, gave the Reds a glimmer of hope but by that time Coventry had already extended their lead through a penalty, scored again by Fenner.
That was enough to see them through, especially with Sam Leeming missing a vital conversion.
Jersey Reds: James Flynn (Roy Godfrey, 56), TJ Harris (Harry Doolan, 53), Steve Longwell (Adam Nicol, 28; Steve Longwell, 60), Tom Everard (Alex Humfrey, 40), Macauley Cook, Max Argyle, Lewis Wynne (c) (Tom Everard, 53), Guy Thompson (Wes White, 20), James Mitchell (Harry Simmons, 56), Brendan Cope, Will Brown, Dan Barnes (Jordan Holgate, 46), Jack Roberts, Scott van Breda, Brendan Owen (Sam Leeming, 69).
Coventry: Toby Trinder (Luc Jeannot, 63), Jordon Poole (c) (Suva Ma’asi, 59), Phil Boulton (Jake Bridges, 70), Adam Peters (Rhys Thomas, 56), James Tyas, Fred Betteridge (Tom Ball, 59), Josh Bainbridge, Senitiki Nayalo, Josh Barton, Tony Fenner, James Martin, Rob Knox, Andy Forsyth, Rob Stevenson (Tom Stanton, 58), Louis Brown.
Referee: Dan Jones.