Fixture: Jersey Reds vs London Irish
Competition: Pre-season friendly
Date: 27th August 2022
Stadium: Stade Santander International
Another fixture, another new season- London Irish are back in action this forthcoming Saturday for a trip to the Channel Islands to face Championship side Jersey Reds in the Club’s first pre-season friendly.
The Exiles return to St. Peter for the first time since a spell in the Championship in the 2018/19 season, where honours were even, each a home win, in a split of league meetings that campaign.
Having finished last season in fourth, Jersey achieved their highest league positioning since Irish’s departure from the second tier after back-to-back sixth-place finishes.
Reds amassed their highest points haul in the Championship (69 points) since their promotion to the division a decade ago, with their biggest winning margins coming against capital side London Scottish both in the league (40 points) and cup (47) competitions.
Harvey Biljon, coach in Jersey since midway through the 2013/14 season, recently committed to a seven-year deal at the Stade Santander International.
The island took on current Gallagher Premiership champions Leicester Tigers on home soil last weekend, and following on from a 7-17 loss last season, ran the Midlanders close in a 26-35 defeat.
The boss- Harvey Biljon:
Upon conclusion of the 2021/22 season, Biljon committed to the aforementioned lengthy deal to keep him at the Championship Club until the summer of 2029.
The 45-year-old, a previous attack coach at another second-tier outfit Cornish Pirates before his time in Jersey, led Reds to their best ever finish in the Championship last term and into the top four.
He navigated the Club past relegation relegation in the 2013/14 term with a 41-31 win over Bedford Blues, going on to attain 3 league and cup wins against Irish in the former’s two spells in the Championship in 2017 and 2018.
A South-African native, he was born in Kariega and represented Natal Sharks’ under-21 side as a youth player.
The former scrum-half spent time as a player in the Premiership as a member of Wasps’ squad, joining in the year 2000 and remaining for six years.
One to Watch- Eoghan Clarke:
Jersey Reds have a points-scoring hooker of their own at their disposal, with Irishman Eoghan Clarke aiding in his Club having the highest points amassed in the Championship outside of champions Ealing Trailfinders (+596).
Clarke touched down 17 times in the 2021/22 Championship, a league-high that was matched only by Championship veteran Mark Bright of Richmond.
The 24-year-old is a former member of the Munster Academy, and moved over when in 2021 upon TJ Harris’ injury but has made a significant impact at the Club since.
He represented his country at under-20 age-grade level and also made five appearances for the Red Army’s A-side.
Classic Encounter: London Irish 42-29 Jersey Reds – 27th November 2016 – Championship
The Exiles put their Channel Island opponents to the sword at the Madejski Stadium in a 42-29 win in Reading back in 2016, but it was former player Guy Armitage who registered the first score of the meeting.
Front-row physicality from David Paice and Richard Palframan via rolling mauls saw Irish reply swiftly, with Paice going on to add a second in the second-half.
An injection of influence from the backs meant wingers Ben Ransom and Tom Fowlie got in on the act for Irish but Jersey did not walk away empty handed, nonetheless.
Marc Thomas, Nick Haining and George Watkins all added to Armitage’s earlier score on to bag a try bonus point, with the result making it 10 league wins from an available 10 for Irish at that stage of the season.
Tries: David Paice (2), Richard Palframan, Ben Ransom, Tom Fowlie
Conversions: Tommy Bell (4)
Pens: Tommy Bell (2)
Drop-goal: Tommy Bell
Tries: Guy Armitage, Marc Thomas, George Watkins, Nick Haining
Conversions: Sam Katz (3)
Penalties: Sam Katz
Jersey Reds Head Coach Harvey Biljon was full of praise for both sets of players after his side showed plenty of character to regain a foothold in the second half of a 26-35 loss to Leicester Tigers last weekend.
“A huge amount of character and resilience was shown by all the players,” Biljon stated post-match.
“Although it’s game one, there’s headaches already for the coaches.”
Reds held their Premiership counterparts to one try in the second forty whilst Lewis Wynne, James Hadfield and Ben Woollett, the latter two both debutants, all touched down for the home side.
Biljon looked ahead to the remainder of his side’s pre-season billing, which includes games against the Exiles and also Bath Rugby, and how the schedule will benefit the Championship side ahead of their league campaign.
“It’s a happy camp, they’re working hard but we’ve a long way to go.
“We can’t get too excited but what an absolute privilege it was to host the Premiership champions here in Jersey and I think we will definitely take a huge amount out of it, and I think they will too.
“It puts us in a great position going into the season- we’re definitely going to be tested each week and it’s going to be tough again next week with London Irish a team definitely on the up in the Premiership.”
Irish name side for west London derby
Declan Kidney has confirmed the squad for Sunday’s derby clash with Harlequins at the Gtech Community Stadium in Round 16 of the Gallagher Premiership (3pm kick-off).
Will Goodrick-Clarke, Agustin Creevy and Oliver Hoskins are in the front row, with Rob Simmons and Adam Coleman in the second row.
Matt Rogerson captains the side from the six jersey and is joined in the back row by Tom Pearson and Chandler Cunningham-South.
Ben White and Paddy Jackson link up to form the halfback duo, and Rory Jennings partners Benhard van Rensburg in the centres.
Michael Dykes, Lucio Cinti and James Stokes complete the line-up as the back three.
“Whenever these two clubs pitch up against one another, it always creates a good game of rugby,” said Declan Kidney, Director of Rugby.
“I know that we are expecting a good crowd at the Gtech Community Stadium on Sunday, and they will inevitably create a great atmosphere.
“We need to make sure that we put in a full 80-minute performance to give our supporters a reason to show their voice. Harlequins are a well-drilled side, and we know it will be a difficult challenge this weekend, but one we look forward to.”
15 James Stokes, 14 Lucio Cinti, 13 Benhard van Rensburg, 12 Rory Jennings, 11 Michael Dykes, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ben White, 1 Will Goodrick-Clarke, 2 Agustin Creevy, 3 Oliver Hoskins, 4 Rob Simmons, 5 Adam Coleman, 6 Matt Rogerson (c), 7 Tom Pearson, 8 Chandler Cunningham-South.
16 Mike Willemse, 17 Danilo Fischetti, 18 Ciaran Parker, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 21 Joe Powell, 22 Luca Morisi, 23 Henry Arundell.
Baxter issues Moon injury update
By Mark Stevens
Rob Baxter says he cannot give a timescale as to when prop Ben Moon will return to the Exeter Chiefs match-day squad.
The 33-year-old forward is currently Exeter’s longest-serving player, having made his debut in 2008 away to Sedgley Park, and is the last remaining member of their 2009-10 promotion squad.
The England international, however, has not featured for the Devon club since coming off the bench against Munster in last April’s Heineken Champions Cup clash at Sandy Park.
Asked by the media this week about Moon, the Chiefs’ Director of Rugby said: “I wouldn’t hold out hope that he’s going to be appearing soon. It’s been a challenge for Ben for a little period of time now, it’s not just been this season.
“He’s had periods in and out with it, it’s something that’s been affecting him for a little while and because of what it is we just have to be very careful with it.”
Moon has featured in all six of Exeter’s Premiership final appearances at Twickenham – and he also played in the 2020 European Champions Cup final win over Racing 92, and Exeter’s first major final when they beat Northampton Saints to win the 2014 LV Cup.
Moon won eight England caps in the 2018-19 season, but did not make the squad for that autumn’s World Cup in Japan.
“He’s still active around the club, he’s still here, he’s in training, he’s continuing very hard with his rehab and getting everything else he can right, but we’ve just got to be really careful around that neck.
“It’s probably one of those things where it’s getting to the stage where there’s not a lot more we can do. I can’t talk for Ben about his future, but you’re not going to see him in the immediate future on the pitch.”
TEAM NEWS – Sale Sharks v Bath Rugby
South African talisman Rob du Preez is set to make his 100th Sharks appearance whilst Alex Groves is in line for his Gallagher Premiership debut as Alex Sanderson names his side to face Bath Rugby at the AJ Bell Stadium tomorrow night. (Kick-off 7:45pm – Live on BT Sport)
Sanderson makes seven changes to the Sale starting line-up as his squad returns to Gallagher Premiership action following defeat at the hands of Ulster in the Champions Cup.
In the forwards, there is a complete change of the Sharks front-row as Simon McIntyre, Tommy Taylor and Nick Schonert all return to face Bath.
Cobus Wiese links back up with Josh Beaumont in the second row following a one-match suspension for a dangerous tackle in the Sharks’ clash with Toulouse two weeks ago.
Jono Ross captains the side in the absence of Ben Curry, whilst Sam Dugdale steps in to replace the flanker after his England call up to Steve Borthwick’s England squad. Jean-Luc du Preez retains the number 8 shirt with twin-brother Dan remaining on the side lines due to an ongoing hand injury.
Gus Warr continues to provide a platform for success at scrum-half and links up with centurion Rob du Preez, who is named at fly-half.
The ever-present Sam James retains the thirteen shirt with Ryan Mills picked at inside centre in the absence of Manu Tuilagi. The former Wasps centre is one of two changes in the Sharks’ back line.
Sanderson’s second change in the backs comes in the form of Tom Roebuck, who replaces Arron Reed on the wing after an impressive cameo in the Champions Cup. Tom O’Flaherty is named on the other wing, with exciting academy graduate Joe Carpenter at full-back.
On the bench, Ewan Ashman, Ross Harrison and Joe Jones are named as front-row replacements, with Alex Groves and Rouban Birch providing further cover for the forwards. Raffi Quirke, Luke James and Arron Reed cover the backs.
Sale Sharks Starting XV:
15. Joe Carpenter, 14. Tom Roebuck, 13. Sam James, 12. Ryan Mills, 11. Tom O’Flaherty, 10. Robert du Preez, 9. Gus Warr; 1. Simon McIntyre, 2. Tommy Taylor, 3. Nick Schonert, 4. Cobus Wiese, 5. Josh Beaumont, 6. Jono Ross (c), 7. Sam Dugdale, 8. Jean-Luc du Preez
16. Ewan Ashman, 17. Ross Harrison, 18. Joe Jones, 19. Alex Groves, 20. Rouban Birch, 21. Raffi Quirke, 22. Luke James, 23. Arron Reed
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