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Reds happy to take advantage of Carnegie troubles

Rugby | Published:

IF JERSEY REDS wanted to give a convincing display to put the previous week’s frustration behind them, then they found Yorkshire Carnegie to be more than obliging opponents under the Friday night lights at Stade Santander.

Leroy Van Dam scored a try in each half for Jersey Reds against Yorkshire Carnegie Picture: DAVID FERGUSON

The Leeds-based club’s name derives from the 19th century Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Thankfully for Reds, their opponents – ravaged by financial troubles that destroyed a once-strong squad – were also in a charitable mood, allowing eight tries to be shipped past them without much objection.

Coaches will always spin the line that there’s no easy game in professional sport these days and assistant coach Neil Tunnah was no different in his post-match assessment. If such a statement is unconvincing in the face of Yorkshire extending their 0% record to ten games, it should not take anything away from the performance of the home side. After all, another cliché that ‘you can only beat what’s in front of you’ is undeniably true ... and Jersey Reds did just that with a ruthlessness that cut through the Yorkshire Carnegie defence at will.

‘We played at a speed and level of physicality that we hoped they would struggle with,’ said Tunnah. And struggle they did. At times the Jersey offence was a joy to behold, as the ball exchanged hands quickly, creating gaps to exploit with minimum force. Carnegie the man made most of his fortune in steel, but this Yorkshire Carnegie had little of this commodity.

The old stereotype portrays Yorkshiremen as careful with money, but this group left the Island with empty pockets such was their generosity on an ice-cold night. As soon as Reds scored their opening in try in the fifth minute – scored and converted by their former player Brendan Cope – the Yorkshire players’ body language spoke acceptingly of the crushing defeat that was to come.

Not that Jersey were going to show them any sympathy. After the early score, Harvey Biljon’s team continued to press and push through that game, but porous, defence, the front row driving the ball forward, a constant occupation for their opposite numbers as they made room for the back division to gratefully exploit.

The Reds dominated the set-plays too. A scrum in front of the Yorkshire posts set up Rodney Iona to breeze in and double the lead for Jersey once Cope converted again.

It was the lively Samoan’s first try for the club.

Three further tries were scored from line-outs on the edge of the Yorkshire goal line, the ball quickly recycled and switched from right to left for the grateful Leroy van Dam, twice, and replacement Nic Dolly to apply the easiest of finishes. In between, Jersey asserted their authority in open play too.

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A first-half drive from Alex Morgan led to a second try for Iona shortly after he scored his first, while in the second half second-row Kyle Hatherell surged through the centre to score following a momentary malaise from the Jersey forwards.

Pushed hard, the Yorkshire pack conceded a penalty try, when fair means had failed.

It was a good all-round display from the Reds – powerful and precise, with only a lack of discipline for brief spells either side of half-time threatening to undermine their performance.

Jersey conceded a flurry of five penalties of which Yorkshire’s Ryan Shaw happily executed four with his trusty left boot. His team-mates seemed content to rely on Shaw’s kicking ability keeping the score respectable rather than show loftier ambitions.

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Yorkshire got a collective nose-bleed when they set foot in the Jersey 22 for the very first time right on the stroke of half-time and they celebrated their consolation try in the very last play of the night as if they had scored the winner. So full credit to them for keeping going to the final whistle, in this, the toughest of seasons.

For the hosts, it was a pleasure to get back on the winning trail with an encouraging performance from players who may have felt a little pressure to up their levels or face de-selection.

One thing is for sure, they will face a lot tougher tests than this one ... starting with an away test in the Championship against Bedford Blues this weekend.

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