Reds look to re-focus and bid for cup final spot


After the euphoria of claiming the RFU Championship title last weekend, Jersey Reds have adopted a ‘Sumo’ mentality as they wrestle with the challenge of seeking a second trophy.

‘Shut up, move on,’ has been the adopted phrase in camp this week after the Reds returned to training having clinched the league champions tag by winning their last round match with Ampthill by 43-15.

Moving on involves a trip to Cornwall for a knock-out tie in the final four of the Championship Cup. The Cornish Pirates will be lying in wait on their home turf at the Mennaye Field and no doubt relishing the chance to take down the league champions under the Friday Night Lights.

The Pirates finished fifth in the final league rankings, completing their Championship schedule with four straight wins during April, and harbour ambitions to finish the season with some silverware to match their British & Irish Cup success in 2010.

Throughout the season the Reds’ coaching team have shown that they are willing to use their squad rather than opting for the same personnel, and the semi-final selection is a reflection of that, as well as some injuries and illness to key players.

The starting XV for Pirates shows nine changes to the line-up which began the Ampthill game. Four forwards who were replacements last weekend will be in action from the start: props Sam Grahamslaw and Adam Nicol, back row man Alun Lawrence and lock James Scott. With the regular ‘engine room’ duo of Sean O’Connor and Macauley Cook unavailable, Hamish Bain also comes in as Scott’s partner.

There’s also a new pairing in the centres, with Scott Van Breda making his comeback after injury in December to partner Jordan Holgate, another who made an impact from the bench against Ampthill. Meanwhile Ben Woollett and James Mitchell come in at wing and scrum-half respectively, with Tomi Lewis and James Elliott switching to the bench.

The Jersey replacements include three players who were not in action last time out: prop Greg McGrath, lock Tom Everard and fly-half Ben Burnell.

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 20 league matches over the past 11 seasons, the losing side has gained a bonus point on 13 occasions, while just twice has a team walked away with a bonus-point win: Jersey’s 32-31 victory on home turf in May 2021, and their 25-34 win at the Mennaye in January.

Including four cup meetings, the clubs have met competitively on 24 occasions, with the Reds winning 14 to Pirates’ 10.

Several of the encounters between the sides have been played out amid adverse weather, none more so than the one at the Stade at the end of September. 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 - see THIS LINK. By a quirk of the Championship Cup regulations, the club emerging victorious from Friday’s game will have to wait to find out their opponents in the final and the venue at which it will be staged. Ealing Trailfinders host Doncaster Knights on Saturday afternoon and whichever semi-final winner registers the biggest winning margin will earn the right to host the final over the weekend of 12-14 May.

This weekend will also be a big one for rugby back on the Island, with Jersey’s amateur players taking centre-stage at the Stade on Saturday as Siam Cup games are staged against Channel Island rivals Guernsey Raiders. The two clubs’ veterans XVs will start the ball rolling at 10.30am, followed by the Ladies Siam (1pm), the Men’s Siam at 3.30pm and the Fallaize Cup (for 2nd XVs) at 6pm. Siam tickets are available HERE


Jersey Reds squad v Cornish Pirates (A) – 2022/23 RFU Championship Cup semi-final, The Mennaye Field, Friday May 5th, k-o 7.30pm

Backs (15-9)
Brendan Owen; Ben Woollett, Scott Van Breda, Jordan Holgate, Will Brown; Russell Bennett, James Mitchell
Forwards (1-8)
Sam Grahamslaw, Eoghan Clarke, Adam Nicol, Hamish Bain, James Scott, James Dun, Lewis Wynne (capt), Alun Lawrence.

Replacements (16-23)
James Hadfield, Greg McGrath, Stevie Longwell, Tom Everard, Max Argyle; James Elliott, Ben Burnell, Tomi Lewis.


6 Apr 2024




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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