Jersey 45-25 Winchester

Winchester faced a daunting task. Jersey remained unbeaten for thirty games and fielded ex-professionals in key positions. 

Despite this, Winchester earned a valuable bonus point, writes Dai Henley.

The task looked even more difficult when, within the first two minutes, Jersey’s flanker, Tom Corson, dotted down under the posts following fifteen phases of controlled rugby. Stand-off, Aaron Penberthy converted. 

For the next twenty minutes, Winchester regained their composure and enjoyed more possession, but the Jersey defence held firm, thwarting their usually successful attempts to breach the gain line. 
The breakthrough eventually came when, in a bid to close down the Winchester attack, Jersey’s backs were ruled offside by the referee. Full back Tom Fieldsend converted the penalty.

Two minutes later, Jersey’s winger, Nathan Rogers, scored after several uncharacteristic missed tackles by Winchester. The conversion by Penberthy brought the score to 14-3. Then the floodgates opened. Jersey played stunning rugby, with strong carries, accurate chips behind Winchester’s defence and multiple offloads resulting in two tries in the next six minutes one by centre, Scott Van Breda, and one by second rower, Euan Spencer. Penberthy converted one of them to bring the score to 26-3.

Just before half-time, Jersey scored their fifth try, with hooker Jack Macfarlane touching down following a dominant drive by their pack from a lineout on Winchester’s five-metre line. The reliable Penberthy converted from wide, bringing the score to 33-3.

At the restart, Tommy Hare came on for scrum-half, Jake Jupe. Will Wilson replaced the usually indestructible Wilf Nicholson, who’d suffered a neck injury. 

The travelling Winchester supporters dreaded a drubbing, and within five minutes, their fears grew as Jersey’s Macfarlane finished off the best move of the match following a counterattack from inside their half, the ball passing through eight pairs of hands. The successful conversion brought the score to 40-3. 

It got worse for Winchester. Midway through the second half, Jersey’s Van Breda, got his second try despite heroic tackling by the away side. The successful conversion made the score 47-3.

Then something miraculous occurred. Two minutes later, winger Josh Wickens scored in corner following sustained pressure. Fieldsend’s conversion sailed wide of the posts. Prop, Ben Turner, came on for Alex Lee, marking his one-hundredth cap. Within minutes, he crowned a memorable day by touching down following a scrum five metres out. Fieldsend converted, bringing the score to 47-15.

Incredibly, Winchester now gained control. Greg Sullivan kicked a penalty into touch deep into Jersey’s half. The catch and drive worked perfectly, and Josh Wickens flew over the line to complete his brace. The conversion missed. 

In injury time, Tommy Hare flew over Jersey’s try line after excellent running and passing by the evergreen backs, Hiscock and Sullivan. Hare missed the conversion, and the referee blew for no side, with the score a much more respectable 47.25.

Winchester remain in fourth position, two points behind Tottonians in second place who play Jersey away in two weeks’ time.

Coach Gaz Martin said: "Our second-half performance is what we must build on. We’ve got to let our first-half performance go. This is a tough place to win. I can’t see any of the teams in this league beating them."

Winchester’s next match is against Whitney at home. KO is at 2.30 pm. There is a memorial lunch for Gordon Jones, former player, coach and chairman of the club who died last month.