Reds lose monkey but gain target on their back

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HARVEY BILJON admits that his Jersey Reds side will have a target on their back following last week’s Championship Cup victory over Ealing Trailfinders.

The win over their closest rivals in both league and cup underlined that Reds mean business this season and can produce results in the big games. Tonight they continue their cup quest when they face Hartpury University in Gloucestershire, and will be looking to keep up the momentum in Pool A.

‘That Ealing have come to us and lost is important because it got the monkey off our back and we know that when they come here again we can win,’ said the Reds’ director of rugby.

‘Against top opposition, it’s got to give you confidence for the remainder of the season but we know every game in the Championship is very tough.

‘The squad is stepping up and working hard for those big games but what we’ve got to recognise on the flip side of that is that we are now one of those teams getting results at the top of the table and suddenly we become a target for all the other teams.

‘Make no mistake, we’re going to have to lift our game against Hartpury. We will be a big target for them so we need to make sure our preparation is on point, that we’re focused and ready to go out there and perform again.’

While the league remains a priority for the Reds, the Jersey side is enjoying the distraction of cup rugby and has no plans to take its foot of the gas. It is the old cliché that the side is just taking one game at a time but Biljon insists that ‘while there is still a lot of rugby left to play in the season’, they do not want to look too far ahead.

‘We understand that if we get through, we go straight into a semi-final and are playing knock-out rugby. We’re in a very tough pool with Ealing and we can’t take anything for granted,’ he added.

A number of injuries has forced Biljon to rotate the squad, making several changes from last week.

Tom Pittman makes his first start since the league win at Caldy in October, while Toby Venner has been called up for the first time this season and will take a place on the bench. But while injuries may have forced Biljon’s hand, it has been the strength in depth available to him that has allowed Reds to enjoy what should be the best season in the club’s history.

‘This is what the squad is all about. They’re competitive and we will have some energy from the players coming in,’ Biljon continued. ‘We’ve got to make sure the squad is firing and the standards are high to continue to push on all fronts because all players want to play in big games every week.’

Jersey Reds squad: Greg McGrath, James Hadfield, Adam Nicol, James Scott, Macauley Cook, Josh Gray, Lewis Wynne (c), James Dun, James Elliott, Tom Pittman, Dan Barnes, Charlie Powell; Tomi Lewis, Ryan Hutler, Brendan Owen. Replacements: Eoghan Clark, Huw Owen, Steve Longwell, Tom Everard, Hallam Chapman, Toby Venner, Russell Bennett and Will Brown.

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