A LEAGUE and cup double remains on for Jersey Reds after they battled to a 35-24 Championship Cup semi-final victory against Cornish Pirates.
After the celebrations of last weekend’s Championship success, the Reds had to refocus for a tricky away trip with the prospect of further silverware on the line.
The Friday night win against Cornish Pirates in a firey knock-out rugby affair at the Mennaye Field means they will face either cup holders Ealing Trailfinders, or Doncaster Knights, in next weekend’s final.
Two tries by winger Will Brown, alongside eight points from the tee by fly-half Russell Bennett, and further scores from hooker Eoghan Clarke, winger Ben Woollett and a penalty try put Harvey Biljon’s side in a prime spot to make it a league and cup double.
It took Jersey Reds barely a minute to score; Pirates struggled to break the Islanders line, inside centre Jordan Holgate charged down a Garyn Smith kick, and Will Brown sprinted down 50 metres, past several players to get on the end of the loose ball to score.
The home-side continued to press deep and the Penzance-based side narrowed the fixture when a five-metre driving line spun round, hooker Will Crane was amid a pile of bodies to score.
Fly-half Arwel Robson missed the conversion, making it 7-5.
With a physical advantage in their forwards, the Islanders pinned Pirates back for the next quarter of an hour, but several errors kept the score narrow until a well worked line-out manoeuvre six metres from the whitewash led to hooker Eoghan Clarke powering over on the 26th minute.
Five minutes later and a well worked move by Reds’ half-backs looked to have set up returnee playmaker Scott van Breda for a try, but the South African had a butter fingers moment, knocking on.
Reds’ worked back into Pirates territory, but the home-side held firm at a line-out in front of their own try-line, and van Breda saw yellow for a questionable obstruction.
From another line-out, Robson read the play beautifully, setting up Rory Parata, who dummied Woollett in a two-on-one for wing Arthur Relton to score on the cusp of half-time.
Reds, 12 – 14 ahead at half-time, started strong, and lock James Scott looked to have cantered in a try on the 44th minute, but grounded beyond the dead ball line. A minute later and a scrum five-metres out saw the Islanders awarded a penalty try, and Pirates Marlen Walker loosehead sin-binned.
Play was stopped for nealy 20 minutes when replacement lock Tom Everard suffered a suspected broken leg during a collision.
Pirates then turned the tables, and with more than double-digit phases, outside centre Parata dived over to score.
But a minute later and a quick cross-field phase to Brown saw the dimunitive back swing past two defenders to spin and score in a flash.
Woollett’s intercept from a Robson spilled ball gave Reds’ enough of a cushion, and Pirates replacement Alex Schwarz’s try in the final minute was little consolation.
Cornish Pirates 24 Jersey Reds 35
Tries: Will Crane 9, Arthur Relton 40, Rory Parata 54, Alex Schwarz 78
Conversions: Arwel Robson 40+1, 55
Tries: Will Brown 1, 56, Eoghan Clarke 26, penalty try 45, Ben Woollett 66
Conversions: Russell Bennett 2, 27, 57, 67