Rugby:Wrong options cost Jersey dear

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In front of an 800-plus crowd – the largest of the season – Jersey were easily as good as the visitors for long periods in the first half but not so good in the second.

As Jersey’s backs coach Guy Hinks said afterwards: ‘It was such a frustrating afternoon.

We’d be close to their line when a basic error meant we were suddenly 80 yards back.

They were well drilled and their backs were all over the place.

They were hard to defend against and although we didn’t play badly, our last pass just wasn’t working for us.’ The visitors were easily the best side Jersey have played this season – a team Jersey beat comfortably twice last year, but this year they have a new coach, Martin Knights, formerly with Richmond.

‘He has made a huge difference,’ said Sutton’s director of rugby, Simon Shaylor.

‘This year Martin has encouraged us to add width to our game.

We’ve won six games in a row and we play with confidence.

Jersey don’t look to have that confidence and couldn’t take their chances.’ And it showed.

Twice in the first half Steve O’Brien and then Gareth Jeffreys were one on one with players outside them, but on both occasions they were hauled to the ground, meaning that a try-scoring opportunity was wasted.

Those opportunities came in a purple patch for Jersey midway through the first half when, 7-6 down, they should have taken the lead.

The first score came in the seventh minute when Jersey, in possession, were penalised for collapsing a maul – 3-0 to the visitors.

Then Jersey were awarded a penalty try in the 11th minute as Sutton illegally took scrum-half Dave Miles out of the game a yard short of the try-line.

Cummins converted.

Ten minutes later Jersey’s No 7, Graham Bell – soon to be followed by No 8 Richie Griffiths – was yellow-carded for an offence no-one else saw apart from the referee.

The ensuing penalty made it 7-6 as fly-half Sam Frost kicked his second penalty.

Neither side was in control of the game at this stage but in the 32nd minute a hopeful kick by Sutton scrum-half Jim Daniels wasn’t cleared by Jersey and a quick pick-up allowed No 10 Frost to recycle the ball before outside centre Graham Bowden had a clear run in to the line.

Frost converted and it was 13-7 to Sutton.

That was the score at half-time, and for all of their huff and puff in the second half Jersey, now back to 15 men, never really gained the momentum they had had during a first half, which showed so much more promise.

Following six minutes of Jersey pressure in the second half a Mark White pass was intercepted in the Sutton 22 and smart inter-passing saw Lyndon Burrell put Bowden into space for his second try of the game.

Frost converted to make it 18-7.

And for all their discipline and possible try-scoring moments of the first half, Jersey now looked the weaker team.

They conceded another try when replacement Tom Lindsay lumbered through for a try in the 83rd minute to make it 23-7 before, in the 14th minute of extra-time, Jersey powered through following an interception and an 80-yard dash by replacement winger James Milner.

After winger Latu Maka’afi, following up, won a penalty a metre short from the line, the ball was popped up to back-row player Nathan Kemp, who drove over.

It was too little, too late, though.

One consolation for Jersey is that they won’t meet a better-drilled side all season.

Jersey RFC: Marcus Nobes, Josh Chamier, Jim Brimelow (Peter O’Connor), Roger Quirk, Ian Henderson (Marc Peters), Nathan Kemp, Graham Bell, Richie Griffiths, Dave Miles, Sam Cummins (James Milner), Ryan Morgan, Mark White, Steve O’Brien, Latu Makai’afi, Gareth Jeffreys (Anthony Hurford).

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