Reds and Pirates on the rebound at the Mennaye


After disappointing showings in round 13, Jersey Reds and Cornish Pirates will be seeking improved displays to get back on track when they lock horns this Saturday.

While the Pirates suffered a heavy defeat at Bedford, the Reds required a get-out-of-jail card in the dying moments of their home game with London Scottish as the visitors missed two shots at goal to win the match.

The Reds will travel to the Mennaye Field in Penzance with a starting XV showing eight changes to the XV which began the contest against the Exiles, who belied their 12th-placed status with a determined and energetic 80-minute display.

Stevie Longwell is retained in the front row after 80 minutes’ hard yakka against Scottish, joined by James Hadfield and Sam Grahamslaw in the front row. Sean O’Connor returns to the starting team after a week’s bench duty to partner James Scott, while Macauley Cook will pack down at blindside flanker alongside skipper Lewis Wynne and James Dun.

In the backs, James Mitchell get the nod at scrum-half to partner regular fly-half Russell Bennett, Will Brown retains his left-wing berth after claiming two tries last Saturday. Another try-scorer against the Exiles, Brendan Owen, features at full-back while three players are recalled: midfield duo Jordan Holgate and Alex McHenry and wing Ben Woollett.

The Reds’ bench features home-grown hooker Harry Doolan, who is set to make his season’s debut after an injury-plagued first half of the season.

This weekend’s visit to the Mennaye is just the second in almost four years, dating back to a 7-8 win for the Reds in March 2019. Covid scuppered the fixture the following season, with the truncated 2020/21 campaign comprising a solitary game in Jersey. Of eight previous league encounters in Cornwall, just two have been played on a Saturday: the final day of the 2012/13 season, and the first weekend of January in 2015.

Since their first meeting on September 1st 2012 – a 6-20 away win for the men from Cornwall – the two sides have made a habit of contesting close games. In 19 league matches over the past 10 years, the losing side has gained a bonus point on 13 occasions, while just once has a team walked away with a bonus-point win: Jersey’s 32-31 victory on home turf in May 2021.

Including four cup meetings, the clubs have met competitively on 23 occasions, with the Reds winning 13 to Pirates’ 10.

The brace of league meetings last season were split one apiece; at the Stade in November 2021, with force eight northerly winds, squally showers and a biting windchill all in evidence, the first half looked set to end scoreless until the Reds drove towards the line in the final minute and earned a penalty try as their maul was collapsed. A Wes White try and five points from Sam Leeming’s boot stretched the lead during the second half and a late Robin Wedlake try couldn’t prevent the visitors going home empty-handed – it finished 15-5.

At the Mennaye Field last February, the Reds made a blistering start, scoring two tries within eight minutes through Cook and Dan Barnes, both converted. The visitors had several other chances in the first half, but could only add a late penalty and the Pirates were relieved to be only 10 points down at the interval thanks to Tom Channon’s try. Channon crossed again early in the second half, with Tom Kessell adding a third and the home side holding out to win 21-17.

Several of the encounters between the sides have been played out amid adverse weather, none more so than the most recent at the Stade at the end of September (pictured above by Rich Chapman). Driving rain and gale force winds dominated the game, won 21-10 by the Reds courtesy of three penalty tries, the last of which – the only one of five tries scored against the conditions – scuppered a determined comeback by the Pirates with just seven minutes to play.

Saturday’s game will be streamed live online via production company 247.tv at a cost of £7 - LINK HERE.

There will be rugby action back on the Island this weekend as unbeaten Jersey RFC take on Alton in Hampshire Counties 1, kicking off at 2pm.

The Reds return to home action at Stade Santander International next weekend, with Ealing Trailfinders the visitors for a crucial Championship Cup tie that will kick off at 2pm. Tickets available HERE


Jersey Reds squad v Cornish Pirates (A) – 2022/23 RFU Championship, game 14/22, Mennaye Field, Saturday January 28th, k-o 2.30pm

Backs (15-9)
Brendan Owen; Ben Woollett, Alex McHenry, Jordan Holgate, Will Brown; Russell Bennett, James Mitchell.
Forwards (1-8)
Sam Grahamslaw, James Hadfield, Stevie Longwell, Sean O’Connor, James Scott, Macauley Cook, Lewis Wynne (capt), James Dun.

Replacements (16-23)
Harry Doolan, Greg McGrath, Adam Nicol, Tom Everard, Josh Gray; James Elliott, Dan Barnes, Tomi Lewis.





12 Oct 2023


Why not come and chillout in the ‘Watering Hole’ before the game? A full-bar and food is available and you can enjoy some live music after the game.

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