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Jersey Reds back on track with historic win

Rugby | Published:

HISTORY was made at Headingley as the Reds ended their recent poor run of form with a first-ever victory at the famous Leeds venue.

All smiles for Charlie Beckett, left, and Aaron Penberty as they congratulate try-scorer James Newey Picture: OSKAR PAPIERZ

Seven previous league visits had ended in defeat, but a good first-half performance with ball in hand and a dogged defensive shift thereafter laid that bogey to rest.

Centre James Newey scored twice, after assists from centre partner Mark Best, in addition to Leroy Van Dam’s early strike, while Brett Herron kicked five of his six shots at goal for a 13-point haul.

‘Things came together quite nicely,’ said an understated Newey. ‘We stuck to the game plan the whole way through and there wasn’t a lot of doubt today.

‘We kept going with the phases and were patient with the ball – and in defence, too – and the gaps ended up opening up for us and we took them.’

Jersey didn’t start like a side that had lost its last three matches, keeping the ball impressively in the opening exchanges. That patience was rewarded when Van Dam profited from some slick handling to slide in for his sixth Championship try of the season with five minutes gone. Herron was unable to slot the conversion, his only miss of the afternoon, but was on target ten minutes later when Carnegie were penalised for a high tackle on former player Will Homer.

A knock-on stopped Carnegie from scoring what seemed an inevitable try from a rolling maul, but they weren’t to be denied a second time when, on 21 minutes, they pushed Jersey off their own ball at a five-metre scrum and Dan Temm pounced.

When Jade Te Rure dropped a simple pass ten metres in front of his own posts handed Jersey the perfect attacking platform and, after the industrious Best had been halted just short, swift hands worked an overlap, again down the left, which Newey had no problems finishing off. Herron turned the five points into seven with the conversion and, at this point, Jersey looked well set to break their Leeds duck.

A 20-metre rumble from tight-head Andrew Foster finally roused Carnegie into action and led to their best passage of attacking play. Number eight Janco Venter, who had already stopped Pete Lucock in his tracks with a thumping hit in midfield, was deemed to be over-zealous with his next tackle and was sent to the sin-bin on 37 minutes.

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A man short and with captain Jerry Sexton hobbling around on one leg, the Reds were always going to be up against it, and they were powerless to stop Carnegie’s forwards from driving over after Jacob Umaga kicked a penalty to the corner and the lineout was won. Matt Smith was credited with the touch down.

Even so, Jersey finished the first half as they started it – on top – and the sides went into the break even-handed when Carnegie winger Elijah Niko saw yellow for killing the ball a few metres out.

Carnegie dominated the opening exchanges of the second half much as Jersey had done the first but their lack of accuracy and determined tackling from the Reds, led by lock Dave McKern, meant the visitors’ line was rarely threatened.

Finally, on the hour mark, Jersey broke upfield, Newey eating up 40 metres before being hauled down inside the Carnegie 22 by a despairing cover tackle from Chris Elder.

A pair of late Herron penalties, on 72 and 77 minutes, both from in front of the posts, remained the only points of a largely forgettable second half until Best intercepted Jacob Umaga’s pass and then offloaded to Newey who strolled over in the last play of the game.

The four points gained takes Jersey back into the Championship top four, on points difference from the Cornish Pirates.

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