Rotherham (H) 26.1.1327/01/2013
Jersey 13 Rotherham Titans 10
Jersey held out for a vital win as an attritional match threatened to spill over in the closing minutes.
Visitors Rotherham battled back and looked like they might snatch a winning score at the death, but their final attack was halted and Jersey held on for four crucial league points.
Director of Rugby Ben Harvey hailed the character, self-belief and organisation of his team.
"We were taking on a really good side and I knew they'd be a tough proposition on a heavy pitch, but we worked really hard and dug deep to get the win," he said.
Heavy overnight rain on an already saturated surface meant the main arena at St Peter was ruled unplayable, with the game switched to an adjacent pitch that, while still boggy in parts, was in significantly better condition.
Jersey's Mike Le Bourgeois and Titans' skipper Garry Law traded penalties early in the first half, which finished with an extraordinary series of scrums close to Rotherham's line. Jersey conceded five penalties, including a yellow card for prop Jon Brennan, and there were numerous re-sets, but not the penalty try the visitors thought they deserved. The siege was eventually cleared and the whistle blew for half time.
Guy Thompson was the most influential player on the pitch at the start of the second half - first Jersey's number 8 tore forward from the kick-off to give his team a platform, and then he was on hand to finish a wave of attacks stemming from a quick free-kick. The conversion and a subsequent penalty by Le Bourgeois put the Islanders 13-3 clear.
Charlie Mulchrone's try from a textbook lineout move helped narrow the deficit, although Jersey claimed the scrum-half had failed to ground the ball properly. Titans turned up the pressure as the match boiled towards a climax, but encountered, as they had all afternoon, a fantastically committed home defence. Jersey's Ashley Maggs was sin-binned as an attempted interception became a deliberate knock-on.
With just a minute left the visitors launched another attack deep into Jersey territory, but the referee then called play back following a prolonged fight on half-way. Jersey lock Dave Markham and opposite number Dan Sanderson earned yellow cards, and crucially play was called back to half-way, with full-time signalled soon afterwards.
Rotherham Head Coach Alex Codling, although clearly disappointed by the referee's decisions at the end of both halves, was reluctant to comment on the official's display after the final whistle.
Jersey, sponsored by Locate Jersey and jersey.com: Davies, Maggs, Bishop (capt), Cooper (Broadfoot 69), Dawson, Le Bourgeois, Griffiths; McCarthy (Barrington 69), Felton (Clare 52), Brennan (Gethings 36-46), Hannay, Markham, Lang (Nihill 74), Buckle, Thompson. Replacements not used: Anderson, McCormack.
Rotherham: Mulchrone F, Doneghan, Blackett, Nonu (McKinney 65), Sheridan, Law (capt), Mulchrone C; Gadd (Kilbane 73), Stagg, Denman (Davies 59), Thomas, Sanderson, Malaafi, Ellyatt (Freeman 52), Rieder (Pitman 46). Replacements not used: Hannan, Gill.
Referee: Steve Lee
Man-of-the-match as chosen by match sponsor Barclays: Guy Thompson (Jersey)
Try: Thompson 45
Conversion: Le Bourgeois 45
Penalties: Le Bourgeois 15, 62
Try: Mulchrone C 68
Conversion: Law 68
Penalty: Law 19
Report by Tom Innes