Five wins in a row, but room for improvement, says rugby chief

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So, although Sutton and Epsom, with a 100 per cent record, seem certain of promotion, the Island side are now back in contention for that No 2 slot.

Jersey RFC director of coaching Dai Burton, however, is still not convinced that his players always make the right decisions at the right time.

‘From the kick-off we caught the ball and set up a ruck.

Then we were given a penalty in our own 22 and, instead of kicking it into touch, we tried to run the ball out of defence.

Again we were caught.

Another ruck formed.

They won possession.

Their centre chipped over, re-caught the ball and scored and, within two minutes of sloppy play we were 7-0 down.

Their player-coach, Mark Wilding, converted the try.’ Burton was critical of his side’s inability to make the most of the conditions; Andover were playing into the sun and a few searching kicks could have put the home side under far more pressure.

However, Jersey eased themselves back into the game a few minutes later when the Andover stand-off fumbled the ball, allowing flanker Graham Bell to hack on, pick up and score.

Darren Toudic missed the conversion but Jersey scored again on the half hour.

This time a perfectly executed catch and drive from a penalty kick into the corner, five yards out, saw player-of-the-match Kern Yates steal over.

Jersey seemed to have the edge approaching half-time, but a Wilding penalty levelled matters at 10-10.

‘After losing two games in a row Andover were on a high; their body language showed that they believed they could win this game, and they were ready for the kick-off to the second half two minutes before we’d finished the break.

You could see that they were anxious to get at Jersey,’ said Burton.

‘However, from the restart, after the ball had been set up in our own 22 winger Ryan Morgan made a weaving run, passed the ball, left, to Steve O’Brien, who passed to Mark White who in turn found Graham Bell who scored in the corner.’ A Toudic penalty made it 18-10 before Jersey increased their lead to 25-10 after Jim Milner was illegally brought down when chasing a certain touchdown from a kick ahead.

‘It was an obvious two-handed push,’ explained Burton.

‘The referee had no hesitation.

It was definitely a penalty try.’ With Toudic’s conversion to follow, Jersey now had a healthy 25-10 lead although this was cut again in the 69th minute when Andover spun the ball left to the outside centre who scored, again in the corner.

The try was converted and Andover were back in contention, just 25-17 down.

With four minutes to go they should have been a single score behind; but Wilding’s bad penalty miss from in front of the posts meant that Jersey were to have the last say of the game when Jason Hosty made a terrific break; the centre was held up but he recycled to Bell who, in turn, found White who darted over.

The same player converted the try to make the final score 32-17.

‘They were a hard, seasoned team with some big old forwards,’ said Burton.

‘We had a bad start when we played bad rugby.

It took us too long to finish them off partly because we made too many individual errors.

‘It was only in the second half, when we showed ourselves to be fitter, and moved the ball wide, that we made any real progress.

But, after this result; well, anything can happen again once we play again, in the New Year.’ Jersey RFC: Peter O’Connor, Josh Chamier, Jim Brimelow, Roger Quirk, John Allo, Kern Yates, Richie Griffiths, Graham Bell, Paul Nayar, Darren Toudic, Ryan Morgan, Mark White, Jason Hosty, Jim Milner, Steve O’Brien.

Replacements: Marcus Nobes, Mark Peters, Nathan Kemp, Anthony Hurford.

Other London South II results: Beckenham 13, Old Colfeians 5; London Irish Amateurs 3, Wimbledon 24; Maidstone 15, Thanet Wanderers 15; Sutton and Epsom 48, Sevenoaks 7; Tunbridge Wells 16, Lewes 3.

Other results – friendlies: Jersey RFC Development 48, Mitie Beeches 10; Jersey U15s 0, Jersey U16s 38.

Hampshire U14 Division I: Alton 10, Jersey RFC Academy 31.

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