Tears flow as Reds endure cruel end to game

Siam Trophy 2024 Guernsey Ladies v Jersey Ladies Footes Lanes Picture: MARTIN GRAY

THE annual rugby battle between the red and green sides of the Channel Islands can come down to a matter of black and white.

When fine margins separate the sides in a Siam encounter, there are polar opposite emotions for the rival teams: the heady exhilaration of victory and the desolation of defeat.

While it’s never good to lose any big game, to come second by a couple of points after conceding a late score is especially hard to take, so it was no surprise that tears flowed among the JRFC Women’s camp as soon as the final whistle blew at Footes Lane.

Having been ahead for most of a compelling contest, the Jersey girls were clinging to a one-point lead and preparing for one last defensive push when the scrum they had been awarded was changed to a Guernsey penalty on the advice of the assistant referee.

Suddenly the home team didn’t need to break through the red wall any longer. There was a chance to kick the ball over it, through the uprights and seal the three points to win the game.

No kick is easy in those circumstances, but Guernsey’s Chelsie Blondel showed nerves of steel to split the posts. No sooner had the ball landed than the referee signalled that time was up.

The loss was magnified by several factors beyond its narrowness and last-gasp nature. A host of “could-have-should-have” regrets about whether the JRFC side might have scored more points when opportunities arose, or had the chance to clear their lines more effectively as their opponents pressed.

Questions were asked about whether the officials’ final call was correct, but there was also an admission that had the Jersey side played to their full potential, they would not have ended up in a vulnerable position.

The prize would have been even bigger, with no away win for Jersey in Ladies’ Siam history.

There were players who might not get the chance again, some of whom had suffered a similar agonising loss in 2022 (13-12 to Guernsey on that occasion).

A sunny day started with a green win in the Nash Cup for the veterans with the Sarnians emerging 36-12 winners.

That game was followed by red joy at the end of an equally tense battle as a young JRFC 2nd team held on at the end to defeat their Guernsey rivals by just four points and win the Fallaize Cup. The hosts pushed and pushed for a winning try, but the red wall stood firm until the resolve of the hosts’ exhausted fly-half ran out and he launched a kick that was easily caught and booted out of play by a gleeful Jerseyman.

Three tight Siam games in succession would have been tough on the ticker and, as it turned out, the men’s game was a looser and less nail-biting affair. The hosts were 14 points up with barely 10 minutes played and maintained a healthy lead for the rest of the game.

For the concluding game there was to be no repeat of the Fallaize and Ladies agonies, or recent ‘nippers’ in the Men’s Siam such as Jersey’s 14-13 win at Footes Lane in 2021, or the 20-18 result at St Peter four years earlier when Guernsey’s last-kick conversion slipped wide. Fine margins, black and white, red and green: the circle of Siam life.

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