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Reds look to back up Bath display in home opener

21/09/2023

John Hawkins claims the ball in the air.  Picture: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

 

 

Jersey Reds and Exeter Chiefs will meet for the first time this Saturday… and there’s plenty at stake.

Last season’s winners of the RFU Championship host multiple top-flight winners in a Premiership Rugby Cup offering the winner every chance of reaching the semi-finals of the competition, being contested by teams from the top two English tiers for the first time.

The Chiefs sit alongside the Reds at the top of pool C after back-to-back wins: 38-13 at home to Cornish Pirates last weekend, and a 75-0 ‘cross-pool’ mismatch against an inexperienced Bristol Bears side in round one. Meanwhile the home side will look to back up a notable away win, having scored 29 unanswered points in the second half to beat Bath 10-34 at the Recreation Ground.

Having seen their players impress in front of a live TV audience last Saturday, the Reds’ coaching squad demonstrate a willingness to use the depth in their squad by making nine changes to the starting XV which ran out at the Rec.

Several of the replacements who contributed to the strong second 40 minutes at Bath earn opportunities from the start, including all five of the new faces in the pack: hooker James Hadfield, props Greg McGrath and Adam Nicol, plus back row men Thom Smith and Tim Grey.

James Mitchell will start at scrum-half, while three other backs come into the starting XV from outside the Bath XV: centre Dan Barnes, wing Pete Sullivan and full-back Scott Van Breda.

A bench showing a 6:2 split of forwards to backs includes a potential competitive debut for Ciaran Booth, newly signed from Connacht this summer, and maiden opportunities in this season's cup for prop Huw Owen and scrum-half Toby Venner.

The Chiefs are one of just three Gallagher Premiership clubs against whom Jersey Reds have never played, the others being Gloucester and Northampton Saints. The Reds have played at Sandy Park the Devon side’s home since 2006, in September 2013 when the Championship held regional double-header weekends as part of a ‘bonus round’ experiment, which saw a loss to Plymouth Albion in the season-opening event.

Following this weekend’s tie, the Reds will conclude the pool stages of their Prem Cup campaign with a trip to Cornish Pirates on Friday September 29th, followed by a ‘cross-pool’ match-up against Ealing Trailfinders, who will visit Stade Santander International on Friday October 6th (k-o 7.30pm).

 

Jersey Reds squad v Exeter Chiefs (H) – 2023/24 Premiership Rugby Cup, pool C round 3, Stade Santander International, Saturday September 23rd, k-o 2pm (* competitive debut)

Backs (15-9)
Scott Van Breda; Ben Woollett, Alex McHenry, Dan Barnes, Pete Sullivan; Russell Bennett, James Mitchell.
Forwards (1-8)
Greg McGrath, James Hadfield, Adam Nicol, John Hawkins, James Scott, Thom Smith, Lewis Wynne (capt), Tim Grey.

Replacements (16-23)
Daf Hughes, Huw Owen, Stevie Longwell, Hallam Chapman, Ciaran Booth*, Max Argyle; Toby Venner, Josh Barton.

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6 Apr 2024

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12 Oct 2023

THE WATERING HOLE

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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