Sark Shags v Alderney Ridunians 25th August 2019
Exactly 12 months to the day since Alderney played their first ever match, the Ridunians returned to Sark seeking to avenge last year’s defeat. The coaching team were also viewing the game as an indicator of the progress made since the inaugural game.
In 2018 Alderney struggled to come to terms with playing against a side of experienced players, as many of the Alderney played their first game in this fixture. However confidence was high following an intensive training programme and four other matches in the last year.
Despite the pre match optimism the game followed the pattern of the previous year with Alderney taking time to settle into the game whereas Sark quickly got into their stride and scored a converted try within the first four minutes. Two minutes later the Shags added another converted try and the writing looked on the wall.
However Ridunians rallied and an individual Jordan Clay try reduced the deficit and gave the travelling support renewed hope. Almost immediately Sark scored again before Andy McCray replied for Alderney with a converted try and after a frenetic first eleven minutes Sark led 19 – 10. Inspired by captain Craig Cox Alderney became more resolute in defence and kept the rampant Sark side, playing downhill on a pronounced slope, at bay. Alderney started to retain possession and the routines from the training ground saw Alderney gaining ground and pressurising Sark as the phases mounted.
Eight minutes from half time the pressure resulted in Andy McCray scoring again and added the extras to reduce the deficit to two points. A lapse in concentration by Alderney shortly after saw Sark score again against the run of play to lead 24 – 17 as half time approached. With time up, and the referee having signalled the last play of the half, Sark looked to get the ball out wide to finish on a high and with one player to beat a further try looked certain until Sam Crawford intercepted the final pass and ran the length of the field to score under the posts. The conversion saw the half time whistle blow with the teams level at 24 – 24.
With the scores level Alderney relished the prospect of playing down the slope in the second period and for the first ten minutes of the half Sark were trapped in their own 22 and defended desperately but unable to prevent Alderney taking the lead with a converted John House try. Ten minutes in, a missed tackle allowed Sark to score under the posts but this just galvanised the Ridunians who hit back with tries from Jordan Clay, Andre Mills and Jordan Clay again (completing a hat trick). None of the scores were converted but Alderney felt the game was already over now being in the lead by fifteen points.
Alderney then seemed to lose their way giving away possession due to inexperience. Several free kicks and penalties for technical infringements saw Alderney having to defend desperately. A rejuvenated Sark reduced the deficit to ten points with eight minutes left and with two minutes to go Alderney lost the ball on their own line to allow Sark to come within one score of victory. A very tense two minutes ensued but another converted Sam Crawford try saw the Ridunians take the spoils in a very hard-fought but enjoyable game.
The Ridunians are looking forward to hosting Jersey Royals in the next game on Saturday 7th September at 1pm.
For the record:
Team. B Le Noury, D Martinik, S De Jersey, H Symington, D Le Poullain, C Cox, J House, J Clay, D Smith, T Gronych, A Mills, S Crawford, A McCray, R Kerry
Tries: J Clay 3, S Crawford 2, A Mcray 2, A Mills 1, J House 1
Conversions: A McCray 4
Man of the Match: T Gronych