Rugby:Good start vital for promotion hopes

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Opponents Guildford RFC finished fourth, one place below Jersey last season, but while the Island club beat them 11-10 away from home, Guildford triumphed 14-10 at St Peter.’We should have won by more points away,’ said Jersey coach Dai Burton, after final team selection on Thursday in preparation for the game away.’Conditions were poor, but we gave them a hard time in the pack.

When they came over to Jersey, though, they were much stronger.’They have a useful stand-off, an ex-Harlequins’ player, Paul Challinor, and a decent scrum-half.

Between them they will try to control the game.’Paul Nayar’s in the team ahead of Chris Butler simply because he’s a very good defensive player.

He’ll need to be against their scrum-half.’Although this is only the first game of the new season, it is already a crucial one.

Guildford are an ambitious club and with no Richmond RFC in the division any more, they will expect promotion.Jersey, too, are fed up with meeting the same teams year in and year out and are, on their day, good enough not only to move up but also to hold their own in the division above them.Winning therefore, even if not through playing attractive, 15-man rugby, is Burton’s message to his men as he looks to a fixture list which sees Jersey having to travel away for all their league games between today and 25 October.If Jersey have to grind out a victory, so be it.’We’ll play it down the middle, attack in the forwards and go for territory.

We’ll not take it wide at all,’ said Burton.With Roger Quirk’s return to the second row he has five of the best backrow forwards in the division.

He also has the option of four jumpers in the line-out when, last year, he had only two.’Teams in the UK pick up players according to which division they’re in.

Tottonians and London Irish Amateurs have been promoted to our league, Effingham and Leatherhead have come down into it.

‘We won’t know their strength until we play them.

Guildford, though, are an ambitious side.

They will see us as a major threat to them.

‘Of course you’re apprehensive of the teams around you but you’re also confident of your own ability.

We probably won’t know our true ambition until we’ve a couple of games under our belt.’Despite problems with Dave Miles, Roger Thomas, Arnou Helmholt-Kneisel and more than one pack player out, injured, he has already picked up one or two new players including two northerners, Ken Moore at prop, and reserve three-quarter Phil Walker from Manchester.If the pack can dominate the game he also has a potential match winner in Hampshire three-quarter Steve O’Brien.Defeat, so early in the season, won’t be a disaster but if Jersey are to be serious title contenders, Burton needs to beat Guildford, twice.

Once away – today – and then again at home next March.Team: Ken Moore, Doc Snook, Jon Brennan, Roger Quirk, Chris White, Ian Henderson, Pat Dean, Andy Allan, Paul Nayar, Jon Swift, Steve O’Brien, Ross Allen, Matt Howe, Jim Milner, Mark White.

Substitutes: Christian Butler, Phil Walker, Andy Mayo.

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