Reds up for cup crunch

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The Islanders welcome Championship rivals Doncaster Knights to St Peter at 3 pm tomorrow for what is likely to be another tight last-eight clash, and with a home tie against either Leinster A or Munster A at stake the hosts will undoubtedly be highly charged.

Jersey – beaten finalists last season – have won all three quarter-finals they have contested since reaching the knockouts for the first time in 2016.

‘Firstly, we need as many people up here as possible,’ said the head coach, from his office at Stade Santander.

‘The team absolutely thrives when the supporters get behind us, and we’re going to need that in such a big game.

‘You’ll see guys going out who are wholeheartedly committed, and determined to make sure they do the Island proud. We’re in a quarter-final, so let’s get excited about that, embrace it and give it everything we’ve got.’

Following the departure of James Voss to Leicester Tigers this week flanker Rory Bartle shifts forward into the second row – providing space behind for Number 8 Matt Rogerson to return from injury.

Biljon added: ‘Rory has predominantly been playing in the back row, but we feel like we’ve got the right balance for this opposition.

‘There is real competition for places there – Dave McKern, Uili Kolo’ofa’i and Bartle – and we’ve not seen a huge amount of Tom Quarrie but he’s very professional in the way he goes about training. You never know what can happen in this game.’

Kolo’ofa’i has been given the nod to sit on the bench tomorrow – providing late brawn against a side who are likely to be formidable up front.

‘They’ve got a pack that will compete with anyone,’ said Biljon. ‘They’re big, heavy, powerful, and we all know the threats they have in the back three, whoever they choose – Dougie Flockhart, Tyson Lewis, Paul Jarvis.

‘They’ve got some real experience in their team and Clive [Griffiths, Knights’ director of rugby] will have them ready to go.’

September’s 26-24 home defeat left Jersey trailing 5-4 on the clubs’ head-to-head chart, which includes two draws, but in those 11 previous matches both teams have registered 242 points.

Griffiths said this week he is expecting another ‘humdinger’, while Biljon is expecting improvement from their last Knights loss.

‘We’re a very different team now, compared to that first game of the season,’ he explained.

‘In the first game we had 22 new players arriving and we were finding our feet. Since then we’ve looked at the detail around unforced errors, discipline, set pieces, and we’re all on track.

‘We’ve gone through the detail for knockout rugby … we just need to make sure we don’t give too many opportunities away and stay accurate.’

Jersey Reds (1-15): Jake Woolmore, Nick Selway, Jake Armstrong, Jerry Sexton, Rory Bartle, Max Argyle, Conor Joyce, Matt Rogerson; Kieran Hardy, Brendan Cope; Jason Worrall, Mark Best, Apakuki Ma’afu, Tom Pincus, Scott Van Breda.

Replacements: Roy Godfrey, Jared Saunders, Leeroy Atalifo, Uili Kolo’ofa’i, Jake Upfield, Joel Dudley, George Eastwell.

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