DIVISION NEWCOMERS Jersey travelled to Headingley on Friday for what is believed to have been their first-ever evening fixture, writes Richard Grainger.
Despite losing 32-19 to a Leeds side who were far from clinical but too strong for the visitors, Jersey were level 13-13 at the break. Leeds managed to record a bonus point win with two tries for skipper Jacob Rowan and one apiece for debutants Josh Griffin and Jamel Chisholm, but failed to capitalise on promising approach work with poor retention.
Director of Rugby Ben Harvey told the Jersey Evening Post: “It’s inexperience, and this young side will learn, as we have had to learn in the past when we’ve moved up a division. The only difference is having to learn while losing. But they will learn hard lessons, like tonight when we did not play our rugby in the right areas.”
The Channel Island outfit entertain fellow strugglers Moseley next Saturday and this will be a better yardstick of their potential to survive in this league.
Bristol’s trip to North Yorkshire resulted in their first win of the campaign but gave them little cause for a sing-song on the way home. Ross Johnston finished off a catch and drive for the visitors and wingman Ryan Edwards collected his own chip as Tristan Roberts converted Johnston’s effort and added a penalty.
Jamie Lennard replied with three penalties for the Knights, who considered themselves unlucky to miss out on a losing bonus point when replacement Matty Jones slotted a penalty in front of the posts to take Bristol nine points clear with 10 minutes to go.
Like Leeds, Bristol created chances through Jon Goodridge and Mike Tagicakibau but were unable to finish them off.
London Scottish had recruited heavily over the summer and only five squad members have recorded more than 50 appearances. Interest was expressed in this blog last week as to whether this re-structuring might just trouble promotion favourites Newcastle, who travelled to Richmond on Saturday. It didn’t.
The Falcons brushed aside the new-look Athletic Ground outfit, scoring seven tries, all of which were converted by Jimmy Gopperth. Ally Hogg bagged three, and Sean Tomes, Luke Fielden, Alex Crockett, and James Hall all crossed the whitewash for the visitors.
However, the Exiles never gave up, and Dean Richards’ men will be disappointed to have leaked tries towards the end to reward the home side with the respectability of a 32-49 scoreline and, more importantly, a try bonus point. Mark Bright and Tyler Hotson crossed for the Scottish in the last ten minutes, to add to scrum half Richard Bolt’s first half effort and a penalty try.
Moseley remained rooted to the bottom of the table alongside Jersey, thanks to their second defeat in two outings. At Billesley Common on Saturday, they went down 17-28 to Nottingham. The visitors failed to pick up a try bonus point but their second win leaves then one point behind league leaders Newcastle.
Week two was completed with a couple of cracking games on Sunday, both of which went right to the wire.
At Clifton Lane Rotherham and Bedford scored four tries each in an enthralling encounter with the lead changing hands regularly. However, when the Titans got the ascendency at a five-metre scrum in the final minute, the referee went under the posts giving James McKinney the chance to level the scores at 38-38.
And finally, at the Mennaye field, Rob Cook, now contracted to Gloucester, returned to his old club on loan to snatch victory for the Cornish Pirates with a penalty in the dying minutes.
For most of the game, a vastly improved Albion had outplayed a below strength Pirates side scoring three tries, but were unable to convert their dominance into a first win in Cornwall since 2006.
So after two weeks, this leaves things looking like this…
Follow Richard Grainger on Twitter @maverickwriter
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