London Scottish (A) 2.3.1303/03/2013
London Scottish 41 Jersey 33
report, by Tom Innes, produced by kind permission of the Jersey Evening Post
pictures from the game can be seen HERE
Jersey produced a thrilling but ultimately flawed performance in defeat against London Scottish.
The Exiles' recent good form, now extended to 26 points from eight games, had been built on the back of a much stronger defensive effort under the watchful eye of French legend Serge Betsen.
But now the home side reverted to early season defensive frailty, leaking five tries to a rampant Jersey side, and having to look to other factors on which to build their win. The crucial ingredient was Jersey indiscipline, which led to two yellow cards, and five penalty shots at goal for James Love. Four of them sailed between the posts, the fifth crept home via an upright, and ultimately the Scots had an eight-point cushion.
Jersey emerged onto a firm pitch in bright conditions, in front of the biggest contingent of travelling fans seen all season. The away supporters were desperate for some early cheer, but in fact they saw three successive penalty concessions, the last of which was turned into five points via a textbook catch-and-drive lineout move finished off by hooker Adam Kwasnicki.
Michael Le Bourgeois, who had an off-colour day at fly-half, missed a penalty chance soon afterwards, and Love extended the lead with a penalty set up by his pack's driving maul.
The penalty count turned in Jersey's favour, but two attacking lineouts were lost. However the visitors looked dangerous with ball in hand, and after good approach by Barry Davies and Guy Thompson, Ed Dawson finished superbly in the corner.
Jersey were competing well in most areas, with Thompson consistently prominent and Charlie Walker-Blair relishing the chance to work off the frustrations of an injury-plagued season with some thunderous defence. The pair lost their back-row colleague however, Fred Silcock paying the price for his side's string of first-half penalty offences.
Love added six more points during the sin-bin period, although Jersey finished the half brightly. Thompson and Sean McCarthy surged forward in one of a wave of attacks, and eventually quick ball enabled Mark McCrea to feed Max Stelling for a try by the posts.
Love's fourth penalty had extended his side's lead to five points before many spectators had returned to their positions with a half-time beverage, but Jersey were soon on the attack. An incisive run by Stelling led to Charlie Clare crossing the line, but Jersey's hooker couldn't ground the ball and the maul was pushed back into play by the Exiles. Clare wasn't to be denied for long however, when a scrum penalty set up a lineout - Clare found his man with the throw and finished off a powerful drive.
The conversion by Le Bourgeois, the best of his four successful strikes, put Jersey in front for the first time. Sadly they were ahead for just two minutes, winger Miles Mantella grabbing a second try for the Scots when he pilfered the ball at the side of a maul and ran unopposed to the line from 20 metres.
The scoreboard was kept moving in the home side's favour with Love adding a conversion and a monster penalty effort, but Jersey continued to look threatening in attack, and a period of pressure ended with Thompson charging through to the posts (27-26).
Once again Jersey were vulnerable soon after scoring, and Mantella was again the beneficiary with another try. There was still time for Jersey, but a promising attack involving McCrea and fellow debutant Mark Foster ended with a potentially try-scoring pass going to ground, and then another gilt-edged chance was spurned when Le Bourgeois kicked a penalty to touch but sent the ball to the wrong side of the corner flag.
The Exiles sensed they'd been given a let-off and pressed forward as the clock passed 70 minutes, determined to finally kill off the game. They laid siege to the Jersey line, and when Thompson tried to intercept a pop pass close to the try-line, a penalty and another yellow card were inevitable.
Three more points from Love would have been the cautious solution for the home side, but instead they took a scrum and number eight Mark Bright went over for the bonus point try.
There was still time for Richard Barrington to score his second
last-minute try of the season, seemingly after dropping the ball
onto his foot, but the successfully conversion left the Islanders
frustrated - just a point away from a losing bonus point, and aware
that this was a game that could have been won.
Jersey, sponsored by Locate Jersey and jersey.com
Forwards: Sean McCarthy, Charlie Clare, Jon Brennan,
Nathan Hannay, Dave Markham, Charlie Walker-Blair, Fred Silcock (YC
28), Guy Thompson (YC 72). Half-backs: Nicky Griffiths
(capt), Michael Le Bourgeois. Backs: Ed Dawson, Mark McCrea, Max
Stelling, Mark Foster, Barry Davies.
Replacements: James Gethings for Brennan (50-52 mins, and 58 mins), Kingsley Lang for Silcock (58), Richard Barrington for McCarthy (74), Talite Vaioleti for Walker-Blair (74), Dave Felton for Clare (76), Donovan Sanders for McCrea (78). Not used: Dave McCormack.
London Scottish: Mark Irish, Adam Kwasnicki, Eric Fry, Alex Karonias, Tyler Hotson, Ben Russell, Chevvy Pennycook, Mark Bright (capt); Richard Bolt, Phil Godman; Miles Mantella, Andy Reay, Oliver Grove, James Love, Jim Thompson. Replacements (all used): Nick Mayhew, Harry Allen, Lewis Thiede, Sam Twomey, Ross Samson, David Howells, PJ Gidlow.
Referee: Matt Carley
Men-of-the-match: James Love (Bedford); Guy Thompson (Jersey)
Tries: Kwasnicki 4, Mantella 51, 65, Bright 74
Conversions: Love 51, 65, 74
Penalties: Love 23, 29, 34, 41, 56
Tries: Dawson 24, Stelling 40, Clare 48, Thompson 59,
Conversions: Le Bourgeois 40, 48, 59, 80