Biljon keeps Jersey fresh ahead of trip to London
WHISPER it quietly, but Jersey Reds could qualify for the quarter-finals of the British and Irish Cup tomorrow afternoon.
The Islanders are only three games into their six-match Pool 3 campaign but a fourth successive bonus-point victory in south London, coupled with Yorkshire Carnegie not picking up a single point in Wales, would result in Jersey claiming top spot. Okay, while few would predict a thumping victory for Dragons Select against their illustrious Leeds-based opposition, the Reds will certainly be confident of beating struggling London Scottish.
The Exiles, sitting 11th in the Championship table, are likely to be in a deflated mood after taking a battering at St Peter last week – they lost 45-10 – but Reds head coach Harvey Biljon isn’t allowing his players to dream of the knock-out stages just yet.
‘We are not even going to focus on it,’ he said. ‘It doesn’t come into the frame. We spoke at the beginning of these two weeks about how tough playing a team back-to-back is.
‘We’ve gone out and put in a good performance but if we focus on what will happen at the end of the competition it will distract us. We’ve got to make sure we go and perform at Scottish this week and come away with something.’
He added: ‘I think they’ll play their strongest team in preparation for the Championship. They want to be ready and prepped going into that, especially playing at home … they are going to want to put their strongest team out and hopefully try and then get something back after the result the week before.’
The coaching staff have made seven changes to the starting XV that put the Exiles to the sword so emphatically last weekend, with Australian Jake Upfield in line for his first start. First-choice second-row pairing James Voss and Jerry Sexton both come back into the starting pack, while Nick Selway is replaced by Jack Macfarlane.
Following the injury to Oli Bryant, Brendan Cope shifts back to stand-off, Kieran Hardy comes in for Joel Dudley at scrum-half, while Tom Pincus has recovered from the illness which meant he missed the action last week.
Jersey Reds: Roy Godfrey (capt), Jack Macfarlane, Leeroy Atalifo, James Voss, Jerry Sexton, Jake Upfield, Seb Nagle-Taylor, Max Argyle; Kieran Hardy, Brendan Cope, Josh Hodson, Mark Best, Apakuki Ma’afu, Tom Pincus, Jason Worrall.
Replacements: Jake Woolmore, Nick Selway, Jake Armstrong, Dave McKern, Conor Joyce, Tim Duchesne, Ellis Abrahams.