Jersey Reds v Doncaster Knights Saturday 15th January 2022, 3:00pm

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Chairman's Welcome

Welcome to our first home game of 2022. And what a start to the new year this promises to be! Doncaster Knights are sitting on top of the table and Jersey are third but only two points behind them, so it’s all to play for at Stade Santander International. It is always a pleasure to welcome Doncaster’s players, coaches, directors and supporters.

Donny have had a great run starting with an impressive 22-5 win against early favourites, Ealing Trailfinders at the end of November. However, the week after saw them trip-up against Cornish Pirates away followed by strong wins against Nottingham, Coventry and London Scottish. In our previous meeting this season the Reds just fell short, losing 27-24 at Castle Park.

The Reds had a tough away-day on Boxing Day. Everything that could go wrong in the build-up to the game went wrong! After an early start, there were delays at Heathrow after landing; the team were stuck for ages on the M1 due to an accident; and when they finally managed to get in to Bedford, their bus had a puncture meaning that the team had to jump in to taxis to get to the ground. The combination of events meant the game had to kick-off 20 minutes late. The rub-of-the-green also went against Jersey in the game itself culminating in a 28-19 loss.

Prior to that, the team had been on a strong run, losing only once in the previous 8 games. They will look to rebuild against Doncaster and launch a strong second half of the season.

Come on you Reds!

Knights preview

The Teams...

Blues 28-19 Reds

Jersey Reds endured a frustrating day to wrap up their 2021 schedule, with a strong final quarter giving their hosts Bedford Blues the spoils after an exciting Championship encounter in front of a boisterous Boxing Day crowd.

The Reds had shown great character to battle back from an 18-5 deficit at half time and take the lead soon after the hour mark, but Bedford were determined opponents and took full advantage of a brace of yellow cards for Jersey in the closing stages.

Today's Opposition

The rivalry between the Reds and the Knights has been as strong as any in the Championship over the past decade, although the two sides have never met enjoying such lofty rankings, with the third-placed side hosting the leaders at Stade Santander International.

The visitors from Yorkshire are in great form, with eight wins from their last nine games taking them to the top of the Championship pile by Boxing Day.

Ealing Trailfinders were the biggest name to finish second to the Knights, well-beaten by 22-5 in late November at Castle Park. The ground was a fortress in 2021, with a loss to Saracens the lone reverse in a dozen home league games.

The Reds will be keen for victory, partly to maintain a decent unbeaten (seven game) home stretch of their own, and also to snap a run of three straight losses at Doncaster hands.

The trio of recent encounters all took place in Yorkshire: a 38-10 win for Donny in February 2020, followed in April of this year when a converted Kyle Evans try soon after half-time was the final act of scoring in a game that finished 22-10 to the Knights.

In the fourth round of this season’s Championship the Knights led 18-7 at one stage, were pegged back to 24-all in the closing stages but seized the win thanks to a 78th minute penalty from Sam Olver.

Overall the clubs have played a total of 21 league and cup encounters since 2012, with 10 wins to the Island side, nine to the Yorkshiremen and two draws.

There has been considerable movement in both directions between the two sides in recent years, although the number of former players has reduced slightly this season. But Jersey’s Jack Roberts and James Mitchell are both former Knights, while Mark Best is a regular in the Doncaster midfield and there’ll also be a chance for Steve Boden to make a return to the Island after four years as a player and coach between 2012 and 2016.

Meet the opposition

Billy McBryde

Billy McBryde is one of the more experienced members of the Knights’ back-line. Arriving at the club in the summer of 2020, McBryde has become a regular feature of Steve Boden’s starting XV’s – either at full back or stand-off, making him an adaptable threat to any defence.

McBryde has featured in 11 out of 12 games this season – no mean feat considering he faces tough competition from Harry Davey and Sam Olver for either of his positions.

An accurate kicker and a quick-thinker in defence, one of the 25-year-old’s stand-out moments this season was collecting an intercepted ball to run the length of the pitch for a try against Ealing Trailfinders in front of an ecstatic Castle Park crowd.

Sam Hudson

Sam Hudson arrived at Doncaster Knights having captained Ampthill in just their second season in the Championship, quickly earning a reputation as a stoic forward who has shown real grit and determination.

A tough, hard-hitting back-rower, Hudson adapts well to different game plans. In the absence of club captain Sam Graham in recent games, he has taken the opportunity to display his ball-carrying and line-breaking skills.

The 24-year-old has had his hard graft acknowledged with selection in the Champ Clubs Podcast’s ‘Team of the Week’ on a couple of occasions. And, in a competitive back-row, he has featured either starting or off the bench in every one of the Knights’ 12 games so far this season.


Rising Star nominee, Betway Channel Islands Sports Awards 2021

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Jersey Reds


Jacquie Ranieri, Sue Armes, Rich Chapman & Claire Jones/ Redhat Photo