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GUERNSEY FINALLY TAKES THE INTER-INSULAR TITLE

GUERNSEY’S name will finally be engraved on the touch inter-insular trophy after an exciting afternoon of games.

For the first time since the competition began in 2005, Guernsey won two of the three games to take the overall title.

‘What an amazing afternoon of touch and an historic day for Guernsey Touch. Every year, we have hoped it would be our year and have been disappointed but we knew our teams were strong this year as there was a good mix of experienced players and newer players who were keen to make their mark,’ said Guernsey Touch chair Katrina Bray.

‘It could literally have gone either way. The tension in the crowd was pretty intense as the minutes ticked away in the deciding game but Guernsey held on and there was a pretty loud cheer when the final whistle blew.’

The three game competition started with the men’s fixture and the lead bounced between Guernsey and Jersey throughout the 40 minutes. Dan Le Prevost scored the first after James Gavey scooped the ball as half but Jersey equalised with a long ball out to the wing and then scored again to take the lead. Guernsey Touch stalwart Andy May set up Andrew Dunn to score Guernsey’s second and Dunn scored again after working with captain Aaron Le Masurier to create a two on one situation. Jersey then evened the score to three all before Connor Sullivan put the greens ahead again and Jersey instantly replied and scored two to take the lead 5 – 4. Dunn scored his hat-trick to even the scoreline once more but Jersey crossed into the touchdown zone to make it 6 -5. Guernsey was determined not to be beaten and scored its sixth through Pierre Vermeulen to make it six all at full-time.

In touch, drawn games go to a drop-off until a team scores. Both teams went down to five and each had a play of the ball without scoring and then dropped a second player to leave four a side which makes the 50m wide pitch extremely tough to defend. Jersey finally scored on the wing to take the game.

The ladies’ game also saw Guernsey score the first touchdown thanks to Claire Tostevin and again Jersey equalised. Bianca Symes dived for the line to score Guernsey’s second and then Jemma Crouse scored the third to finish the first half 3 – 1 to the greens. Crouse scored her second from a penalty to give Guernsey a three touchdown lead and Lee Kelleher could have scored but had run out of the field of play as she headed for the line. Jersey managed to score once more before the final whistle to make it a 4 – 2 win for Guernsey, the third time they have won the cup in four years.

With each island now with a win, the mixed game was to be the decider. Both islands went to the World Cup last year with mixed teams and Jersey had finished ninth and Guernsey 10th and the mixed inter-insular in 2011 had also been closely fought. Jersey and Guernsey have both since lost experienced players and so the trophy was there for the taking.

Guernsey proved to be the stronger team in the first half and, like the men’s and ladies before them, scored the first touchdown through Megan de Garis who had been set up by captain Chris Goddard. Jersey immediately replied but that was to be their only touchdown of the first half.

Lisa Finegan scored Guernsey’s second on the wing and Goddard scored the third after switching with player/coach Ollie Ward. Carly Parrott dived for the line to score the fourth and Matt Brehaut broke through the Jersey defence to score the fifth to end the first half with a 5 – 1 Guernsey lead.

In the second half, there were a further 13 touchdowns scored. Jersey scored first and then Parrott set up Mark Bristowe’s touchdown, which had come after several valiant efforts on his behalf to score. Jersey instantly replied but Guernsey followed suit thanks to Ollie Ward who had been set up by Goddard and Sam Stables. Jersey scored their fourth before Parrott passed the ball to Stables and out to Finegan on the wing for Guernsey’s eighth.

Jersey scored again and then Richard Duchemin scored to give Guernsey a comfortable 9 – 5 lead. Great defence work was not enough to stop Jersey scoring again and a dive by Ward couldn’t stop Jersey’s seventh which was quickly followed by their eighth making the game 9 – 8 to Guernsey with less than five minutes remaining.

The greens took advantage of a disorganised Jersey who had a player force-subbed to score their 10th through Fiona Ashworth and Jersey scored once more before the final whistle to make the score 10 – 9 to Guernsey.

‘Every player played an extremely important part in the overall result and we’re all delighted that after seven years we finally have the trophy. We’re grateful to Geoff Gavey from our sponsors FNB for coming down to present the prizes, to North for hosting us and for the referees who gave up their weekends to come to Guernsey to officiate. We also want to thank team-mates, family and friends who came down to support as that makes all the difference,’ said Bray.

‘The next challenge will be the European Championship in Italy in September and then next year, we will be working hard to try and achieve another first - to win all three Inter-Insular games in Jersey.’