Jersey’s lead may only be on points difference, but with their final two games being against their only title rivals – Winchester at home and Havant away – their chances of winning the Academy’s first league title is firmly in their own hands.
Their adventurous style, based on quick ball won by a highly mobile pack (the front row alone must be the most athletic in the division by a country mile) is easy on the eye and was rewarded with five tries on Saturday, three of them when they were facing a strong wind in the second half.
With the match kicking-off well after 4 pm, the temperature dropped quickly, although the wind remained strong. How the teams tackled the conditions played a key part in the result, Jersey’s tactics against the wind proving far more successful.
New Milton were pressed hard by Jersey in the opening session and points were soon being totted up. A fine run by full-back Paul Phelan, an impressive counter-attacker, made ground up the right and solid play and simple yet effective short passing spread the ball out to centre Aaron Young on the left of the posts to roar in behind the cover to touch down.
Cruz George added the conversion and followed up with a further three points from a central position when New Milton conceded a penalty.
Ten minutes gone – Jersey ten points to the good.
They looked to utilise their back three whenever possible, and surging runs from Dale Le Main and Phelan almost led to a try on the left but the visitors managed to squeeze them out.
But better fortune followed on the other wing, with good hands in the backs leading to the impressive Young putting speedy winger Robert Chapman in at the corner. George’s conversion, given the angle and conditions, was superb.
They were thus 17 points up at half-time, but now they had to cope with the wind. Mid-table New Milton, whose record shows they concede little but score even less, pressed Jersey hard but created only a few scoring opportunities, with a central penalty kick clipping the wrong side of a post. They certainly had all the territorial advantage, but with Jersey coach Barry George urging them to run the ball (kicking was not a good option given the strong wind), the tide began to turn in the home side’s favour again.
Try of the match
The Reds then stretched their lead with the try of the match, George and Young putting in Le Main for a try in the left-hand
corner. George converted, taking the score to 24-0.
Impressive scrum-half Scott Van Der Vliet emerged from a ruck inside his own half, to glide right through a demoralised New Milton defence and that was followed by another electric run and try from the livewire Phelan, with George kicking the final score to 34-0.
Jersey, backed by Sanne Group, now top the league, with their massive points difference of 198 giving them a crucial advantage over
Havant and Winchester, the latter being Jersey’s next opponents, at St Peter on Sunday 30 March.
The Jersey Academy are supported by Bedell Group, Dandara and main sponsors Moore Management.
Jersey U15s: Richard Sinel, Andrew Pitcher, Tim Corson, Guy Richardson, Michael Medway, Elliot Muddyman, Tim Kearns, Aidan Maguire; Scott Van Der Vliet, Cruz George, Dale Le Main, Jamie Kenyon, Aaron Young, Robert Chapman, Paul Phelan.
Replacements: Rory Maclagan, Liam O’Connell, James Allbutt, Jordan Deffains, John James Le Feuvre, Henry Legge and Hugh Blaine.
Officials: Denis Van Der Vliet, Barry George (head coach), Mark White, Steven Kearns, Chris Lagadu and Tony Pitcher.
Referee: Bob Le Brocq.