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Jersey retain touch inter-insular title

Guernsey had to settle with just one victory in this year’s touch inter-insular as Jersey retained the title with victory in the ladies and mixed games.

Unveiling Guernsey’s new KPMG-branded kit, the ladies were the first to play and Jersey’s defence proved impossible to break. They scored three times in the first half, the first coming from a switch five metres from the line, the second from a scoop and the third through a fast-paced attack.

In the second half, Jersey scored four more to end the game 7 – 0. Natasha Eastwood scored four of Jersey’s touchdowns, Una O’Murchu scored two and Ellen Richings scored one. O’Murchu was named Jersey’s MVP with Justeen Baker taking the Guernsey award.

The men’s game was a more even affair and Guernsey were the first to score when Sam Stables through an excellent pass out to the wing and JP Bourgaize touching down. Jersey responded and broke through the Guernsey defence from 10 metres out and although Guernsey gave chase, Jersey evened up the score. Stables was instrumental in Guernsey’s second touchdown and from his position in the centre of the field, he forced an overlap and passed out to Alex Head on the wing to put Guernsey in the lead. Captain Tristan Boscher, a long-standing member of the island team, scored Guernsey’s third and Jersey scored their second as the half-time hooter was sounded.

In the second half, Boscher scored again after he and player coach Alec Bailey worked together in the mids to overshadow the Jersey defence but another mistake 10 metres out saw Jersey scoop through to make the score 4 – 3. Guernsey’s fifth came from Stables with a fantastic dive for the line to give the greens the victory.

Jersey’s touchdowns came from Matt Michel, James Dufty and former Guernsey player Simon di Meo. Stables took Guernsey’s MVP award with Dufty taking Jersey’s.

With each island having a win, it was down to the mixed to decide the overall winner. Both teams will be heading to the European Championship in Wales in August so the inter-insular was ideal training.

Despite the home advantage, Guernsey were overshadowed in the first half and it was an all-Jersey affair on the score sheet as they went into half-time with a 6 – 0 lead. Two touchdowns came from long passes out to the wings, two from great runs from the middle of the pitch and two through gaps in the defence.

Jersey added a seventh after half-time before Guernsey stepped up and scored three in a row. Impressive play from player coach Ollie Ward and Chris Goddard led to Ward diving for the line to score Guernsey’s first. Goddard and Ward paired up again with Goddard diving to score Guernsey’s second. A long pass out to Lucy Holden on the wing gave Guernsey their third.

But Guernsey’s hat-trick spurred Jersey into action and they quickly scored their eighth by catching Guernsey off-guard. Confusion in Guernsey’s defence saw Jersey breakthrough to score number nine and speed helped with touchdowns 10, 11 and 12 with the final score being a 12 – 3 win to Jersey.

Jersey Touch chair Rena Nelson scored four touchdowns, Michel, in his second game of the day, scored three, Jeremy Johnson score twice and there was one apiece from Ruth Brooks, Chris Levesley and player coach Mark Knight.

Mark Bristowe took Guernsey’s MVP award with Jersey’s going to Levesley. The prizes were presented by Goddard on behalf of new Guernsey Touch sponsor KPMG.

‘We’re disappointed that Jersey took the trophy back but obviously delighted that we were able to win the men’s game,’ said Guernsey Touch chair Katrina Bray.

‘We have lost some experienced players and so in a sense, we have had to start again bringing in new, younger players who have not yet played at representative level. That’s something to be positive about as we can build for the future and hopefully it will be a different result next year.’