SATURDAY was the first of our trio of games against the top three teams in our division.
First up was second-placed Jersey who, in previous weeks, had beaten both Richmond and Ealing, so there was no doubt that this would be one of the toughest tests we had faced at the rugby ground for some time.
The side was bolstered by the return of Charlie McGowan from his brother’s stag do, (somehow they all made it back alive). Also, Paul Dunckley was back after missing the previous two games and he started in the centre.
Matt McLean was also back from his hamstring pull to start at full-back but Alex Nielsen was unavailable this week due to work commitments. This meant that Finlay, Liam, Sam, Mike and Gareth kept the bench warm.
Training this week was very positive, working on defence and aspects of play that we felt we could use to our advantage, knowing that Jersey had a large, well-drilled pack and dangerous backs, when given space.
So, to the game, and for 60 minutes we were right in it. Our defence was fantastic, we were forcing mistakes from the opposition and stopping their runners from breaking free.
From one scrum in the Jersey 22, Rob Smith drove powerfully for the line and scored our only try and gave us the lead, albeit briefly.
At times, we were a little over enthusiastic at the breakdown and this resulted in a number of penalties given against us.
The ref finally lost patience and showed the yellow card. From the resulting scrum, we were deemed to have infringed once too often and a penalty try was given.
This gave Jersey the lead again and they were not to relinquish it.
We continued to be competitive throughout and managed to create a number of chances to close the gap, but we were just not able to take them. Unfortunately, Jersey were starting to find more room and were also creating more and more scoring opportunities.
The final 20 minutes was a little disappointing. Jersey broke through and managed to secure themselves the bonus point in the last play of the game. Whether we ran out of steam or just lost concentration for the final quarter will be something we look at at training. Credit has to go to Jersey, who took their chances well and fully deserved their victory.
Other wins this week went to Southend, Henley, Clifton, Lydney and Westcombe Park.
This Saturday, we welcome old rivals Richmond to the Rugby Park and we are looking to gain some revenge for the defeat we suffered at the Athletic Ground earlier in the season.
We hope to see as many of you there as possible.