Reds secure stunning Championship success

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GOOSEBUMPS. Some 144 years after formation, the Jersey Reds can call themselves RFU Championship winners.

A dream 11 years in the making, since the Islanders ascended to the dizzying heights of the second-tier of English rugby.

A club from a nine by five mile island. A true underdog story. The Reds displaced heavy favourites Ealing atop the table after the two squared off last weekend and a polished 43-15 victory over Ampthill today sealed their crowning moment, with no fewer than 100 points to their name.

There might be no promotion to speak of for these brave Reds, but you would not be able to tell, looking at what victory meant to each and every one of the squad and all involved.

All season long the Reds have stuck by the mantra of changing personnel dependant of game and the visit of the Bedfordshire outfit was no different.

Dan Barnes and Will Brown came in amongst the backs for Jordan Holgate and Ben Woollett.

James Elliott and Russell Bennett combined at half-backs at the expense of James Mitchell.

Up front Sam Grahamslaw made way for Huw Owen, as Eoghan Clarke returned for James Hadfield.

Max Argyle slotted back in at six, as James Dun shifted back to eight.

If a fairytale was brewing, no one informed Ampthill, who scored the first points of the game within 90 seconds.

The visiting scrum-half, Lewis Finlay, picked the ball out of a ruck within Jersey’s 22-metre line and slalomed his way through a gaping hole to score.

The extras were added and you could hear a pin drop among 2,700 plus shocked Caesareans.

The lead didn’t last long though, and neither did the opposition’s captain.

A talkative Charlie Beckett was shown a yellow, as the hosts showed patience up front, camped inside Ampthill territory.

Eoghan Clarke was the benefactor after five or six strong carries in the build-up led Jersey over the line.

The visitors were not discouraged however, and retained early confidence, adding three more to hit back immediately.

Departing Red Tomi Lewis was the next over the line for the Islanders. Bennett added the extras as the Stade Santander breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Fellow wing Will Brown was keen to not be left out, as Jersey began to purr and put the visitors under the cosh, extending the lead to 24-10 at the half, with the try-scoring bonus point locked up.

Jersey again raised the decibel levels early in the second as Bennett danced through the opposition, before a brilliantly timed hand-off to Brendan Owen to score.

The Bedfordshire outfit would score next and again quiet the Jersey faithful, reducing the lead to 29-15 and just two tries.

All chances of a slim Ampthill revival died when replacement Josh Bragman was sin-binned.

The offence led to a sixth try from replacement James Hadfield, before fellow replacement Adam Nicol made the numerical advantage count, leaving Jersey in seven heaven for the day.

As the roars went up for full-time, the Reds, families and friends all embraced. This was a win for the Jersey Reds, but it was also a win for the whole rugby community in Jersey.

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