Home title decider for Jersey Reds?

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IT might look one-sided when glancing at the result sheet, and in the end it was, but Jersey Reds’ 52-24 win at Doncaster involved a test of character as they remain on course for a potential title decider against Ealing at St Peter.

Director of rugby Harvey Biljon praised his side’s ability to front up to adversity and find a way to win, admitting that this quality will be needed again when they face Bedford Blues this Saturday.

Victory at Goldington Road would set up a possible ‘winner-takes-all’ clash against Trailfinders at Stade Santander International on Saturday 22 April, with the Londoners’ lead over their pursuers from Jersey down to a single point.

But this is not the time for Biljon to start looking past the next game.

‘This group have been doing well, but they are an honest bunch and know there are things we could have done better,’ he said of their victory at Doncaster.

‘We’ll review those areas, whether it was discipline or some occasions where we could have been more accurate – it’s important to try and step up our game and to stay focused.’

After travelling to Bedford on the morning of the Boxing Day in 2021 – experiencing motorway delays and a puncture on the team coach – the Reds were defeated 28-19.

Biljon added: ‘Bedford is another huge game, and we remember going there at Christmas last season and having a difficult day, so we need to hope the travel goes better and that we’re ready to give a good account of ourselves.’

Reviewing Saturday’s match against the Knights, the Reds chief said: ‘Fair play to our players in managing Doncaster’s tactics – James Mitchell was clearly targeted and I thought he was outstanding today in keeping his composure.’

The home side came right back into contention during the latter stages of the first half, forcing the Reds into some long defensive sets.

But crucially there was just one score in this period, albeit that the Knights’ 33rd minute penalty try came at the added cost of losing Sean O’Connor to the sin-bin.

Biljon added: ‘We had to withstand some real pressure around that time, and we knew Doncaster’s reputation of being pretty physical, but we got through that well.’

The exchange of ‘verbals’ during the first half carried on after the half-time whistle blew, with Mitchell then being tripped by an opponent as he jogged towards the changing rooms.

This sparked a fracas with the majority of both squads becoming briefly involved before being separated, with the Reds staying on the pitch for a moment to avoid the risk of any further confrontation on the way to the dressing rooms.

Biljon and his players hadn’t wanted to be at Castle Park on Saturday, having earmarked the Easter weekend for some downtime before the postponement of the game scheduled on 11 March.

But they adjusted and dealt with the cards they had been dealt, and it was these qualities which will no doubt be required again during the crucial Championship run-in.

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