Doncaster Knights (H) 13.4.1313/04/2013
Jersey 13 Doncaster Knights 10
by Tom Innes
Jersey held on for a crucial victory that left opponents Doncaster hanging on the edge of the relegation precipice.
picture by David Goodenough
The Islanders moved nine points clear of the visitors from Yorkshire, who fought to the last but were left downcast as Jersey celebrated. Doncaster will need 10 points from their final two fixtures, plus a Jersey loss to Cornish Pirates, to pull off an unlikely escape, but otherwise the Knights' eight-year stay at level two will be over.
"The fire isn't out and we will keep believing and keep fighting," said Doncaster Director of Rugby Clive Griffiths. "We are disappointed and frustrated, and think this was a game we could have won and deserved to win.
"We will start to recover and rebuild, not just for the next two
games but for the future."
Ben Harvey was a relieved man after his team hung on for the win that should secure a second season in the RFU Championship.
"I'm delighted - my heart was pounding," said the Jersey boss. "At one stage there were so many mistakes it seemed no-one wanted to win the game. But we hung on and showed great character, and it will be a fantastic achievement to stay up if we can nail it down."
Jersey made the best possible start with a try from a powerful rolling maul, Fred Silcock finishing the job with only five minutes gone. Jamie Lennard reduced the deficit with a penalty, but this was a day to forget for the kickers, with a combined return of three from 12 attempts (six for each side).
Jersey's Rob Anderson seized a loose ball at the start of a move
which was finished by a superb run by Guy Thompson, and a Mike Le
Bourgeois penalty completed the first-half scoring.
The Knights roared back into contention when replacement hooker Ben Sowery finished off a catch-and-drive lineout move, Lennard adding the conversion after returning from a spell in the sin-bin. The second half also saw two yellow cards for Silcock, the second for a tip-tackle that ended his participation with two minutes to play
Both sides had chance to score again, with a superb run by Will Sharp almost leading to a Doncaster try, soon after which Lennard spurned a straightforward chance with 10 minutes to play that could have levelled the scores. But Jersey held firm in defence and after an agonising spell of added time, they won a final penalty. Barry Davies fired the ball across the L'Avenue de la Reine Elizabeth II (try fitting that into a tweet) and onto the runway to end the game and spark some celebrations.
It was a fine performance by the Jersey team, built on a solid
defensive effort full of heart and character. The forwards were
tenacious, and although Jersey's scrum power was limited because of
the low numbers of scrums, the lineout performed well thanks to the
accurate 'arrows' of Elvis Taione and replacements Joe Buckle, Sean
McCarthy and Dave McCormack played their part, 'Macca' making his
100th appearance for Jersey in the process.
Jersey, sponsored by Locate Jersey and jersey.com: Davies, Copsey, Foster, Bishop, Dawson, Le Bourgeois (Stelling 63), Griffiths (capt) (McCormack 56); Barrington (McCarthy 48), Taione, Brennan (Gethings 74), Anderson (Lang 74), Markham, Walker-Blair (Buckle 19-25, 63-65 & 70), Silcock, Thompson. Replacement not used: Felton.
Doncaster: Braid, Keating, Mama, Simpson, Sharp, Lennard (Flockhart 72), Bedford (Hallam 64); Davies (Hooper 63), Buckley (Sowery 49), Francis (Brown 63), Challinor (capt), Parsons, Kettle, Hafu, Planchant (Boyde 65). Replacement not used: Bergmanas.
Referee: Andrew Small
Star Man: Rob Anderson (Jersey)
Tries: Silcock 5, Thompson 26
Penalty: Le Bourgeois 31
Try: Sowery 53
Conversion: Lennard 53
Penalty: Lennard 19