HEAD coach Rob Webber admits Jersey Reds’ players have been left feeling ‘raw’ after their Championship Cup semi-final defeat to Coventry.
With home advantage, the Islanders would have been viewed as strong favourites to secure a place alongside Ealing Trailfinders in this weekend’s final, but ‘a 17-0 head-start’ for the visitors on Friday night ultimately proved costly – ending the professional squad’s season earlier than planned.
They have now all signed off for the summer, with up to a third of the squad believed to be preparing to depart Jersey for good.
‘We gave ourselves to much to do,’ said a disappointed Webber, after the 20-17 loss.
‘Our fight towards the end was immense but a 17-point head-start is too much for us to overcome. We trained well and prepared well but we’ve lost the game on the night, which is frustrating.
‘I think Coventry came with a tactic and they implemented it well, so we must give them credit.’
A Wes White try just before the break gave the Reds some hope and they dominated territory in the second half, but Coventry stood firm. Two late tries, by Tom Everard and Scott Van Breda, came too late, although they may still wonder what might have been had Brendan Cope converted the former.
Jersey may also feel hard done by some of the key decisions made by referee Dan Jones, particularly when he showed Coventry’s Senitiki Nayalo a yellow card for a high tackle that many thought worthy of a red.
‘You watch any game of rugby on television and any head contact it is severely dealt with and the guy’s nearly took his head off,’ added Webber.
‘But it’s not the reason why we lost the game. It would have made it easier for us to get into the game but ultimately it was the 17 points in the first 20 that did it.’
Coventry will face Ealing in the final, after the Londoners overcame Cornish Pirates 36-26 in the other semi-final.
For Jersey Reds’ players and staff, it will feel like a missed opportunity, but one that should not take away from what has been the club’s most successful season in their history.
‘We’re really proud of our efforts this season,’ continued Webber. ‘But right now we’re pretty raw as we were desperate to win that game.’