Jersey secure RFU Championship survival after 41-31 Bedford win

By Tim PryorBBC Radio Jersey at Goldington Road
Jersey at Bedford

Jersey secured their Championship status with a 41-31 win at Bedford on a nerve-jangling final day of the season.

The bonus-point win, coupled with Ealing's narrow loss against Rotherham, ensured the islanders stayed up by a single point and Ealing go down.

Jersey went into the game knowing they would probably need to win to have a chance of avoiding the drop.

Tries from Nick Campbell, Nicky Griffiths, Drew Locke and a penalty try helped them to victory.

Harry Wells, Ollie Dodge, Brendan Burke and former Jersey back Michael Le Bourgeois scored for the hosts, but their four tries were not enough.

The islanders came out of the blocks firing and two tries in the opening quarter of an hour set them on their way.

Campbell's converted pushover try put the islanders 10-3 ahead before scrum-half Griffiths danced his way through and showed real strength to ground the ball in the corner.

Back came the Blues with Wells and Dodge going over in quick succession, but gutsy Jersey regained the momentum before half time as Locke latched onto an Aaron Penberthy kick for the second week in-a-row to claim his side's third.

With news filtering through that Ealing were well behind against Rotherham, Jersey fans started to believe they would still be watching Championship rugby at St Peter next season.

Burke's try though, on his final outing for the club, narrowed the gap to four points before Le Bourgeois crossed the whitewash against his old club to help tie the scores at 31-31.

Meanwhile, at Vallis Way, Ealing started to claw their way back and still had hope of clinging on to their Championship place.

Jersey were not about to let things slip though, and a penalty try following a strong drive towards the line put them back firmly in the driving seat with just over ten minutes remaining.

A Penberthy penalty extended the advantage to 41-31, and despite Ealing's late rally in West London to clinch two points, Jersey claimed the win and could celebrate their survival.

For Bedford, who were skippered by Sacha Harding in his 200th and final appearance before retirement, the defeat confirms their worst campaign for more than a decade.

Jersey get a third season in the Championship, while Ealing drop back to National One after a single season in the second tier.

Saturday's line-ups

Bedford Blues: James Pritchard, Pat Tapley, Brendan Burke, Michael Le Bourgeois. Ollie Dodge, Jake Sharp, Harry Peck; Darren Fearn, Charlie Clare, Phil Boulton, Mike Howard, Harry Wells, Gregor Gillanders, Sacha Harding (capt), Don Barrell.

Replacements: TJ Harris, Nico Steenkamp, Tomas Gilardon-Paz, Paul Tupai, Joe Vandermolen, Darryl Veenendaal, Corey Hircock.

Jersey: Jack Burroughs, Mark Foster, Drew Locke, David Bishop, Ed Dawson, Aaron Penberthy, Nicky Griffiths; Sam Lockwood, Elvis Taione, Nick Selway, James Voss, Nick Campbell, Alex Rae (capt), Ryan Hodson, Ben Maidment

Replacements: Luke Stratford, Sean McCarthy, Jon Brennan, Joe Buckle, Latu Makaafi, Jimmy Williams, Mark McCrea

Att: 2,659