Rugby:Entertainment as Jersey win again

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WIN or lose, Jersey’s progress this season has seen them either score or concede a hatful of tries, and a 500-strong crowd at St Peter on Saturday saw two attack-minded sides score, between them, 50 points, before Jersey emerged the winners, 31-19.

They deserved their win, but ten minutes of drifting into a ‘comfort zone’ saw Thanet turn a 31-7 score into 31-19, still with 15 minutes to play.

Jersey coach Dai Burton effectively put a lid on any further Thanet aspirations to score, by making two key substitutions; Dave Miles on for Paul Nayar at scrum-half and Richard Vetier on for Steve Mee, which allowed Jersey captain Steve O’Brien to move from the pack to centre.

However, Jersey needed a 12-point cushion at this time.

If they had been only one score ahead, with virtually a quarter of the game to play, Thanet would have fancied their chances.

As it was, after five minutes of Thanet pressure, during which time virtually everyone on the pitch had touched the ball, Richie Griffiths at No 8 scored a copybook catch and drive from the line-out to the right of the posts.

Darren Toudic converted.

Both teams then tested each other in the pack and threes with Jersey, in the first half, quickest to the tackle and alert to any half chances that came their way.

So, when a poor pass was caught on the bounce by centre Mark White in the 18th minute and slipped neatly to James Milner, he accelerated around his startled opposite winger for another converted try.

At 14-0 to Jersey the home side seemed to have the measure of a Thanet side whose average age was 22.

Four minute later, however, elusive winger Yan N’Dong took advantage of a neat switch with stand-off Gareth Redmond in a practised move to score under the posts.

The No 10 converted.

Seven minutes later with a three to two overlap Jersey should have scored again, before on the half-hour mark another catch and drive saw Griffiths burrow over for a second try: 19-7.

He was on hand again, this time on the stroke of half-time when scrum half Paul Nayar’s dart for the line was held up short; but cometh the hour cometh the man and Griffiths was over for his hat-trick and another converted try.

Jersey’s lead then seemed unassailable in the 56th minute when a Gareth Jeffreys’ break was finished, clinically, by Milner, cutting in on the right.

Toudic missed the conversion but then those ten minutes of lethargy set in when Thanet took advantage of a penalty move of their own, when No 6 Ben Massey burrowed over, following good play at the line-out.

Redmond converted.

He was to miss an easier kick, just to the right of the posts, following N’Dong’s second try four minutes later with the Jersey defence spread unevenly across the field to make it 31-19 with 15 precious minutes remaining but gradually, with Burton’s tactical changes in force, Thanet were reduced to desperation.

At one stage they even tried to run a penalty from ten yards away from their try line but Jersey’s defence was now clinical and efficient.

They deserved their win – which even Thanet Wanderers’ coach, Gary Hingley, was forced to admit.

‘We tried to force it too much in the first half,’ he said.

‘If we’d been more patient with the ball, the result would have been different.’ Burton echoed that sentiment.

‘We took our chances in the first half while they used their backs more in the second half to even it up,’ he said.

As for backs’ coach, Guy Hinks, he was just pleased by the time he’s spent on defence this season.

‘Thanet probably shot themselves in the foot that first half,’ he said.

‘As for the tackling, I think our defence was excellent today; although there is still a difference between how we defend at home, and away.’ Jersey: Marcus Nobes, Josh Chamier, Jim Brimelow, Roger Quirk, Ian Henderson, John Allo, Steve O’Brien, Richie Griffiths, Paul Nayar (Dave Miles), Darren Toudic (Jon Swift), Mark White, Steve Mee (Richard Vetier), Jamie Allan, James Milner, Gareth Jeffreys.

Thanet Wanderers: Bradley Teale, Danny Clement, Joe Winsom, Tom Cleary, Tim McLoughlin, Ben Massey, Simon Harris, Andy Letts, Pieter Slabbert, Gareth Redmond, Yan N’Dong, Stuart Plumridge, Matt McArdle, Peter Macaulay, Mike Simmonds.

Other London South Div II scores: Gosport & Fareham 22, Sidcup 18; Guildford 46, Lewes 15; Maidstone 15, Sevenoaks 37; Old-Midwhigiftians 3, Beckenham 6; Sutton & Epsom 18, Portsmouth 0.

Doug Tranter Cup: Jersey Wanderers 0, Jersey United Banks 12.

Beeches 34, Les Quennevais 7.

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