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Match Report: Jersey Reds 29, London Irish 31

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London Irish is up and running in preparations for their 2022/23 campaign with a narrow 31-29 win over Jersey Reds at the Stade Santander International.

The Exiles took a seven-point advantage into half-time having registered scores through Caolan Englefield, Isaac Curtis-Harris, Matt Cornish and Ollie Hassell-Collins.

An assured opening forty for Declan Kidney’s men wasn’t necessarily demonstrated on the scoreboard, with late scores from Reds’ Ben Wollett and Alex McHenry a sign of things to come as the hosts grew confidently into the matchup.

Hugh O’Sullivan did however go over for Irish’s fifth early on in the second stanza, before a solid closing half from the Championship outfit saw a penalty try being awarded from a scrum and a deciding conversion from a Ryan Hutler try sailing wide with the clock in the red.

After a strong display at the scrum and maul, Irish broke ahead five minutes in after Reds were penalised for a deliberate knock-on.

Rory Jennings’ fine touch finder shifted the Exiles up the park and the ball was worked left to right before Matt Williams’ fine linebreak pulled his side through, scrum-half Caolan Englefield trailing closely in a two-on-one situation to be fed to score under the posts.

His half-back partner Jennings put away the extra duece, but a demonstration of fine running from Jersey saw Will Brown evade numerous tackles to press towards the whitewash only to later be met with eventual strong Irish resilience.

A first loose lineout from the hosts saw Matt Cornish field the ball and Irish were away, the ball then being recycled before Williams’ dangerous poke through went out of play in an inviting field position.

 

 

Reds relinquished possession once more from the set-piece, the ball falling to a well-positioned Cornish again as the Exiles worked through the phases for Isaac Curtis-Harris to enter the goal area for Irish’s second.

Jersey registered their first score of the affair after a smart breakaway just as Irish were pushing their opponents back, Ben Woollett the elected player to score in the corner with Pittman’s extras drifting astray.

Harvey Biljon’s side, despite not retaining a foothold from the restart, overturned play and won a scrum as Irish were knocking at the door immediately after resumption with the deficit kept at nine points.

A poor scrum from the Channel Islanders meant Irish then held the power, and after Jennings kicked for the corner, Matt Cornish capped off a brilliant opening forty with a try of his own from an aggressive Irish rolling maul.

Jersey couldn’t see Ollie Hassell-Collins for dust on half hour, the winger showing a clean pair of heels to dot down in the corner having received the ball just outside the Jersey 22 after a fine flowing sequence for those in green- Jennings then unable to convert the score.

The Academy product had the try line calling him again on his more native wide left channel, receiving a typically smart offload from Curtis Rona only for play to be called back for a stray Hassell-Collins boot in touch before he could make serious inroads.

Woollett brought his side up to double figures before the conclusion of the first forty, benefiting from an overload on the left side five metres out to score- and Jersey were not finished yet.

A tricky kick from hand meant a wild bounce of the ball left the heavily involved and inbound Woollett an advantage over Hassell-Collins, plucking the aerial ball to feed Alex McHenry who took it under the posts and bring his side to within seven at the break.

 

 

The defensive expectation continued to be focused on Irish with ill-discipline at firstly a scrum, and then a maul close to the try line in the second half but Lovejoy Chawatama’s graft meant Jersey couldn’t release and such pressure was alleviated.

Declan Kidney’s men were back in control after a clever snipe from Hugh O’Sullivan saw the Irishman through a gap, yet not necessarily through a clear passage to another five points, but swift jinking feet from the scrum-half evaded several red men and he touched down.

Compatriot Jackson added two more points to the Exiles’ haul on the day to reinstate the 14-point swing.

A sturdy repelling maul after a tricky scrum for the visitors sent Reds packing for the time being, however, Senior Academy player Michael Dykes’ was a casualty of earlier phases yet his absence afforded recent recruit Tom Hitchcock his first appearance in Irish green.

 

 

Jersey benefitted from much of the territorial advantage in the third quarter, with a rare Irish breakaway formulated in the hands of Benhard van Rensburg and Paddy Jackson only to be halted for the attacking side being off their feet.

Brendan Cope combined well with James Elliott for Jersey after a dangerous blindside attack, but Ben Loader done well to collect what would have been the decisive pass for an opposing try and touched down in his own goal area.

Persistent coercion at the resulting put-ins eventually worked as Irish were made to pay for consistent infringements, referee Anthony Woodthorpe awarding a penalty try in favour of Biljon’s team.

It was Championship side’s first points of the second period and they were then back to within a converted score of Irish, and following a breakdown penalty conceded, Reds revisited the Irish 22 after an impressive shunt from hand.

Several stoppages, including for a head injury replacement for Ben Loader, eventually subsided for quick play from Jersey but the ball was sent into touch.

With Jersey benefiting from an advantage, they opted for a scrum in hopes of replicating the same form earlier on in the half and Irish was dealt with a further blow after Ben Atkins’ offside transgression meant he was sent to the sidelines for the game’s remainder.

Another scrum, and another pair of resets were enforced by the official Woodthorpe as another penalty meant Chawatama partnered fellow forward Atkins in the sin bin.

The ball was worked wide by the Stade Santander side after frustration in getting the ball over close to the uprights, Russell Bennett assisting Ryan Hutler to set up a game-tying conversion for the former- which vitally drifted left for Irish to take honours in their maiden pre-season opener.

 

Score sequence (London Irish second): 0-5, 0-7, 0-12, 0-14, 5-14, 5-19, 5-24, 10-24, 15-24, 17-24, 17-29, 17-31, 24-31

Jersey Reds: Tries: Woollett (20) (39), McHenry (40), Penatly Try (73), Hutler (80); Conversions: Pittman (40).

London Irish: Tries: Englefield (4) Curtis-Harris (12) Cornish (26), Hassell-Collins (29) O’Sullivan (47); Conversions: Jennings (5) (12), Jackson (48).

 

Jersey Reds:

15 Brendan Owen, 14 Ben Woollett, 13 Alex McHenry, 12 Dan Barnes (Holgate 39), 11 Will Brown (Hutler HIA), 10 Tom Pittman, 9 James Mitchell; 1 Sam Grahamslaw, 2 James Hadfield (Clarke 32), 3 Greg McGrath, 4 James Scott, 5 Macauley Cook (c), 6 Max Argyle, 7 Josh Gray, 8 Alun Lawrence.

Replacement forwards:

16 Eoghan Clarke, Antonio ‘TJ’ Harris, 17 Huw Owen , 18 Steve Longwell, 3 Monty Weatherby, 19 James Dun, 20 Lewis Wynne.

Replacement backs:

21 James Elliott, 9 Jonny Law, 10 Brendan Cope, 22 Russell Bennett, 23 Ryan Hutler, 12 Jordan Holgate, 13 Charlie Powell, 14 Tomi Lewis, 15 Scott Van Breda.

 

London Irish first-half team:

15 James Stokes, 14 Michael Dykes, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Matt Williams, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Rory Jennings, 9 Caolan Englefield; 1 Facundo Gigena, 2 Matt Cornish, 3 Oliver Hoskins, 4 Ed Scragg, 5 Adam Coleman (c), 6 Ben Donnell, 7 Isaac Curtis-Harris, 8 Josh Basham.

London Irish second-half team:

15 Jacob Akins, 14 Ben Loader (Hassell-Collins 79), 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Benhard van Rensburg, 11 Michael Dykes (Hitchcock 55), 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Hugh O’Sullivan; 1 Tarek Haffar, 2 Isaac Miller, 3 Lovejoy Chawatama, 4 Josh Caulfield, 5 Rob Simmons (c), 6 Tom Pearson, 7 Josh Smart, 8 Ben Atkins.

Replacements:

16 Joe Vajner, 22 Tom Hitchcock

 

Referee: Mr Anthony Woodthorpe

Content & Images from – London Irish Rugby


Premiership

Hill ready for Chiefs test at the AJ Bell

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Following an extended break due to his involvement in England’s summer tour of Australia, the Sharks family finally got their chance to see Jonny Hill in action last week as the British & Irish Lion made his highly anticipated debut against Bath at The Rec.

But rather than focus on his own efforts, it was the team performance at Bath that Jonny was especially proud of on his first outing as a Shark, with the 28-year-old recognising the resilience of his new teammates in the face of adversity after going down to fourteen men after just nine minutes.

He said: “I was really impressed with the boys at Bath. I thought we fought really hard and showed a lot of perseverance going down to fourteen and then thirteen men at some stages.”

It was a performance to be proud of for Jonny too as the England International played all 80 minutes to help the Sharks complete their second consecutive bonus point victory in as many weeks.

After seamlessly slotting into the Sale squad following a busy summer on tour with England, Jonny credits the extended break offered to him by Sale as a catalyst for his early form this season.

He said: “The extra time I had off following the tour was good. The main thing it allowed me to do was freshen up physically and mentally whilst it also gave me the chance get used to being in a new environment. I’m feeling good for it now though and looking forward to getting stuck into the season.”

It’s a season of change in many areas for Jonny, having to settle into a new city and integrate himself amongst the squad. But the Devon-born giant admits he’s been pleasantly surprised by the northern weather at least.

He said: “It’s been brilliant so far to be fair. I’ve been here five or six weeks now and luckily the weather has been really nice since I moved up. I’ve not been up to too much so far, just getting into the swing of things in pre-season and spending time with the lads. I’ve managed to played a bit of golf but I haven’t found myself a beach to relax on just yet.”

The culture shock of a move from the South-West was balanced by the bromance Jonny already shared with Tom Curry. In fact he revealed he enjoys both Curry twins’ company, so much so that he moved in with the pair when he first arrived in Manchester.

He said: “I’ve spent quite a lot of time with the Curry’s. I knew Tom from England and the Lions and he offered to put me up when I first arrived. That was a strange experience! I’m glad to be out of their way for a bit now.”

Hill is set to make his first appearance in front of the Sharks faithful on Saturday, with the 6ft 7in lock expected to start against his former side.

And after spending seven trophy-laden years at Sandy Park, Jonny knows just what to expect.

He added: “It’s going to be very physical, especially around the breakdown and the Chiefs always bring it up front. It’s going to be a very attritional game but I’m excited for the challenge. I’m just not so excited to see what’s going to happen at the bottom of those rucks!”

Catch Jonny in action this weekend as Sale Sharks face off against his former side Exeter Chiefs at the AJ Bell Stadium. With both sides still unbeaten so far this season, it’s set to be an absolute belter on Saturday afternoon.

Get tickets here

Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby


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Match Report: Bath Rugby 15-29 Gloucester (Premiership Rugby Cup)

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Match summary – Bath Rugby 15-29 Gloucester

A youthful Bath Rugby side put in a spirited display in their Premiership Rugby Cup meeting with Gloucester, but the visitors’ experience told in the second half. 

Tom Doughty’s converted try and a George Worboys penalty had the Blue, Black and White 10-7 ahead at half-time. 

Jack Reeves’ double added to Jake Polledri’s opener to put Gloucester in front and Kyle Moyle edged the game out of sight. 

Bath remained in the hunt for points until late on and hooker John Stewart’s score proved a consolation just past the hour.


Team News

Tom Ellis returned to captain the side along with Ruaridh McConnochie, both having missed eight months of action.

Alongside their experience, Assistant Coach Luke Charteris gave his younger players their first run out of the season with Sam Harris and Louie Hennessey earning their senior debuts. 

Second row pairing of Michael Etete and JJ Tonks were also appearing for Bath for the first time.

Gloucester welcomed some experience back as Jonny May, Polledri and Lewis Ludlow were named by George Skivington.

Bath Rugby: 15 Sam Harris, 14 Ruaridh McConnochie, 13 Louie Hennessey, 12 Will Butt, 11 Gabe Goss, 10 George Worboys, 9 Max Green; 1 Arthur Cordwell, 2 Tom Doughty, 3 Johannes Jonker, 4 Michael Etete, 5 JJ Tonks, 6 Tom Ellis ©, 7 Ethan Staddon, 8 Nahum Merigan

Impact players: 16 John Stewart, 17 Archie Stanley, 18 Kieran Verden, 19 Mackenzie Graham, 20 Thompson Cowan, 21 Tom Carr-Smith, 22 Max Wright, 23 Darren Atkins

Gloucester: 15 Kyle Moyle, 14 Tom Seabrook, 13 Jack Reeves, 12 Giorgi Kveseladze, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Barton, 9 Stephen Varney; 1 Ciaran Knight, 2 Henry Walker, 3 Bryan O’Connor, 4 Arthur Clark, 5 Cameron Jordan, 6 Jack Clement, 7 Lewis Ludlow (c), 8 Jake Polledri

Replacements: 16 Seb Blake, 17 Fed Ma’a, 18 James Pollard, 19 Freddie Thomas, 20 Jack Bartlett, 21 Matty Jones, 22 Isaac Marsh, 23 Jake Morris


First half

The first 10 minutes were evenly matched on physicality, with the ball going through both Bath and Gloucester hands in attack.

Debutant Harris got an early touch on the ball on the receiving end of a nicely placed crossfield kick and demonstrated Bath’s attacking intent.

With solid hits coming from Arthur Cordwell and Etete, and strong carrying from Will Butt, the hosts looked in a good place. However, Gloucester had their moments too.

Italy international Polledri received the ball off the back of a line-out to charge over the line, giving his side the first points of the game.

Answering back, Bath cashed in on a penalty and Worboys got his side’s first points on the board.  

Showing their intent once again, a break from Gabe Goss put Bath on the front foot as he made 15 metres down the wing. Spotting the space, youngster Harris put boot to ball to bounce it into touch deep inside the Gloucester 22 as Bath began to put the pressure on.

It paid off as after a succession of penalties, Doughty bided his time at the back of a driving maul to burrow over and Worboys’ extras made it 10-7.

Edging closer to the close of the half, Bath needed to be resilient to thwart Gloucester of any points and they did just that, preventing such with a superb turnover.

Second half

Gloucester came out strong in the second period as Reeves capitalised on some open field to sprint over and George Barton kept the scoreline ticking over with another conversion.

The Cherry & Whites continued in the ascendancy with Reeves grabbing his second just before the hour with a bulldozing close-range finish which saw JJ Tonks sinbinned in the process.

A third second-half try came just shy of the hour mark as full-back Moyle slipped through a gap on the outside for Gloucester’s fourth.

Not to be downbeat, Bath bit back quickly and replacement hooker Stewart delivered accurate arrows before steering a maul over for a try.

Barton ticked Gloucester’s tally to 29 to make Bath need two scores to claw their way back in and despite many entries into the 22, they couldn’t quite get past a stubborn away defence.

With many patterns beginning to emerge of what Johann van Graan is trying to instil, there are plenty of positives, as well as work ons, to take from the performance. 


Pol Roger Performance of the Match


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GALLERY: GLOUCESTER (H – CUP) by Bath Rugby on Exposure

Content & Images from – Bath Rugby


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Baxter outlines Simmonds departure

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Exeter Chiefs

By Andrew Baldock
29/9/22

Rob Baxter says England international Sam Simmonds will leave Exeter with the club’s blessing.

Baxter has insisted there are no issues surrounding back-row forward Simmonds’ move to French champions Montpellier next season.

He is expected to be available for next year’s World Cup but after that will be ineligible to represent his country.

Saracens boss Mark McCall said on Tuesday that he believes the departure overseas of a player in his prime has wider implications for the Gallagher Premiership.

“I say that because Sam is 27, nearing his peak and is now making himself ineligible for England,” McCall said. “I kind of understand someone who is early 30s doing it after they’ve had their international career and want to experience something different. But to start losing the best young talent in the Premiership, someone like Sam, is a worry.”

Exeter rugby director Baxter, though, has adopted a philosophical stance.

“I think people sometimes get the wrong idea about this,” Baxter said. “I talk a lot to the players and staff in that you want people to be in an environment where they can thrive, work very hard, you want them to win and be successful for each other.

“The outcome of that is it means they are attractive propositions for other clubs who want a bit of that success. There are going to be some outcomes, and some of those are going to be that they are going to get big contract offers.

“It is not a negative when a player leaves you because someone wants them and can afford to pay them more than you can. It is negative when you fall out and a person moves for no positive reason at all. It’s very rare that happens here.

“Sam goes with our blessing for a great adventure, a great opportunity in France. He has still got a lot of good rugby left in him, and we had a long chat about it. He came to us first and explained. We haven’t been in massive, long, drawn-out contract debates about it. The figures are so far apart that there hasn’t really been a debate.”

The dire finances of Premiership clubs have resulted in the salary cap being reduced to £5million.

And, while necessary, reduced wages on offer to players has made it increasingly difficult for English clubs to compete with sides in France and Japan. The fear is that other members of Eddie Jones’ Test squad will follow Simmonds overseas.

The cap for Premiership clubs is due to return to £6.4m for the 2024-45 season.

Baxter added: “Even in the £6.4m cap, you could lose players, particularly to France. I suppose with a £5m cap, all of a sudden the attraction of staying in England lessens a little bit because of the difference in the figures.

“There is another argument that if England paid them more per game – that will cause some debate because England players are pretty well paid compared to some other nations – but that’s another way of bridging the gap. Players add up the whole package.

“It’s a challenge, and something that is going to happen for a little bit. But it is not keeping me awake at night. You have got to keep rolling.”

Content & Images from – Exeter Chiefs Rugby


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