Rugby:Jersey’s defence the foundation for victory

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This was a good, workmanlike performance by a 1st XV which has now learnt how to win.

At the start of the season Jersey scored in every game, but gifted points to opposition sides like Gosport, who had beaten them earlier in the year by 20 points to 8.

Having won three games in a row, this is no longer the case, and this match at St Peter was marked not so much by Jersey’s attacking ability, but by its defence.

For although Gosport went ahead with a penalty catch and drive try after only eight minutes, for the rest of the game Jersey were comfortably in control, and sealed the win in the 69th minute when flanker Latu Maka’afi ran in a try from the left of the pitch, following good hands in the threes and poor defence by a Gosport side which was visibly wilting.

Before then Jersey had controlled the pattern of the game, despite going behind early on in the game following Harry Harrison’s try.

Although full-back Wayne Dugan converted, within the next five minutes Jersey took the lead.

From the kick-off, indecision by the Gosport pack saw Latu Maka’afi unload the ball to captain Steve O’Brien, who scored in the left-hand corner.

Steve Mee converted.

The score was now 7-7, and Jersey were by far the stronger in the pack, so it was with the run of play that four minutes later hooker Josh Chamier scored a push-over try, again converted by Mee.

Despite Dugan’s penalty kick in the 24th minute, which also saw Latu Maka’afi sin-binned for an alleged high tackle, Jersey were remorseless as they put Gosport through all kinds of pressure in both line-out and maul.

Their next try was made by the pack, as No 8 Nathan Kemp saw half a chance and eventually steered the ball to centre Ross Allan, who touched down after taking the ball five yards from the line.

Then Allan scored again five minutes later, following a Sam Cummins’ pass, which meant that with Jersey 26-10 in front, the game was effectively over.

Within five minutes of the restart Latu Maka’afi then scored a fifth try, after Jersey had won the ball against the head in the set scrum; and immediately afterwards Kemp was unstoppable against a side whose body language showed they were thinking more about their flight home, rather than playing, and winning, a game of rugby up at St Peter.

Mee’s conversion made it 38-10 and although neither side scored in the next half hour, Maka’afi’s final try with seven minutes remaining was no more than Jersey deserved for the way they had totally dominated this match.

As coach Dai Burton said: ‘We played well for the first hour before we took the foot off the gas and let them into the game; although I think our defence was tremendous.

I’m pleased with the win, but we only played our best rugby, for perhaps an hour.’ Jersey’s captain, Steve O’Brien, added: ‘We’ve a decent base of players, and we’re now coming together as a team.

We’re working hard for each other, and new players Nathan (Kemp) and Latu (Maka’afi) have made us aware of what we can do.

It was great fun today; I’m enjoying every minute of captaining this team.’ Jersey: Marcus Nobes, Josh Chamier, James Brimelow, Ian Henderson, Roger Quirk, Steve O’Brien, Nathan Kemp, Latu Maka’afi, Dave Miles, Sam Cummins, Ryan Morgan, Ross Allan, Andy Whelan, Steve Mee, Gareth Jeffreys, Peter O’Connor, Marc Peters, Paul Nayar Mark Le Mottée.

Powergen London South 2 results: Guildford 34, Beckenham 14; Jersey 43, Gosport and Fareham 10; Lewes 24, Sevenoaks 30; Old Mid-Whitgiftian 0, Thanet Wanderers 52; Portsmouth 66, Sidcup 0; Sutton & Epsom 34, Maidstone 13.

l JRA Emeraude Lines League: Jersey Wanderers 16, St Jacques 10; Guernsey 2nds 15, Les Quennevais 16; Jersey United Banks 12, Jersey 2nds 27.

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