Match reaction: Jersey 3-24 Newcastle Falcons

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Saturday 24 November 2012 – 3.00pm

St Peter, Jersey

RFU Championship #10

It’s now a perfect 10 out of 10 for the Falcons at the top of the Championship, with eight bonus points, but we were certainly made to work for this latest victory.

Under-strength Jersey put in a committed and spirited performance, particularly in the first half, but in the end the Falcons’ greater quality told and we came away with the five points.

For a while that looked far from certain though. Jersey’s had us on the racks in tight play in the first half and the Falcons struggled for quality ball. How the first try came was not surprising, a cutting run by Jimmy Gopperth through the defence at close range.

Jersey had chances to add to their three points that initially had the hosts in the lead, including a monster 70-metre penalty attempt that had one travelling fan offering to buy everyone in the stand a drink if it was scored. Unfortunately for the rest of us, it dropped short.

Maybe a plane was taking off as Barry Davies stepped up.

The Falcons stabilised after half-time and dominated territory, running in three more tries by Ryan Shortland, James Hall and centurion Alex Tait. The last try was controversial as there looked to be a forward pass from Gopperth to Alex Crockett, and some thought Chip dropped the ball as he grounded it, but the officials thought otherwise.

With another five points in the bag, and a 13-point lead over Bedford now at the top of the table, things look rosy on paper however performances remain enigmatic.

I suppose we just have to trust that Richards and co know what they are doing and will have the team ready for the Premiership if indeed we make it back there in May. They’ve done little wrong so far this season.

I have always had the view that you win games first then the performances will come, anyway.

Off the pitch it’s been quite a weekend so far. The nibbles and beer at the ground on Friday night was very good, giving us a chance to check it out and sample Liberation Ale, which is not a bad tipple at all.

The main bar in the clubhouse is quite something with probably well over 100 plaques from visiting teams, old and greying team photos, wooden boards naming presidents and captains. Outside was a cabinet with trophies and various articles the club has picked up over the years.

The home crowd were also very friendly and passionate, contributing to a great atmosphere during and after the game yesterday. It’s a great place to watch rugby is St Peter.

St Helier is also a pretty little town with some good pubs, including one that bought in a load of Brown Ale for the occasion. Had a couple last night but fortunately not too many as wor lass and I are intending to do a 10-mile hike round the east of the island today.

I just about feel fit enough to do it. Hopefully those fans who finished off Friday night with two rounds of brandy sours at 1am will not be too rough after last night!

Perhaps some players will be worse for wear after a night on the town, but then they are on tour and we could hardly have had a better start to the season.

Hopefully when Jersey come to the North East later in the season they will have as good a time as most of us have here.

(Follow The South Stand Choir on Twitter: @SouthStandChoir)

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