SERENA GUTHRIE was the focus of countless superlatives on Sky Sports after steering England to two wins from two in the 2022 Quad Series.
The Islander was named player-of-the-match at the Copper Box Arena as the Roses beat world champions New Zealand 49-46 – a result which sends them into the final with one game to spare.
England’s latest victory over the Silver Ferns came after a 15-goal swing. They fought back from eight goals down to lead by seven early in the fourth quarter.
‘Against New Zealand it’s a unit effort,’ Guthrie told Sky Sports. ‘You can’t beat this team one-on-one. Thankfully the girls made me look good today.’
Discussing her side’s recovery midway through the match, Guthrie added: ‘We don’t want to go eight down. We don’t want that to be a habit, so that’s a bit disappointing, but we know we can come back now. We have lots of experience against this team and I’m proud of the girls. I’m really happy we could find a way to win.’
England, who set a new Quad Series goal-scoring record on their way to a 71-47 victory over South Africa on Saturday, meet Australia in the final round-robin clash on Tuesday, before returning on Wednesday for the final.
Full report in Monday’s JEP.
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DONCASTER KNIGHTS outclassed hosts Jersey Reds to return to the top of the Championship on Saturday afternoon.
The Yorkshire side eased to a 35-19, bonus-point victory at St Peter, having been rarely troubled by an Island side that held hopes of climbing into the league’s top-two.
The result lifts the Knights back above promotion contenders Ealing Trailfinders on ‘number of wins’, while Jersey ended without a league point being added to their tally for the second game in succession.
The Reds, who trailed 15-0 at half time, did earn themselves a late push for a try-scoring bonus point – thanks to a brace from replacement scrum-half James Elliott and Sean O’Connor’s touchdown from a lineout maul – but poor accuracy and a substantial penalty-count stood firmly in their way.
Full report and reaction in Monday’s JEP.
JIU-JITSU coach Vladimiro ‘Miro’ Afonso says his nomination for coach of the year at the Channel Islands Sports Awards is ‘huge for all Jersey-based martial arts’.
Afonso’s inclusion on the coaching shortlist for 2021 will give martial arts a level of publicity rarely offered at the prestigious awards; a feat which the Portuguese black belt called ‘completely unexpected’.
An accomplished fighter himself, Afonso – head coach at Brazilian Power Team Jersey – claimed silver in the World Pro Jiu-Jitsu Championships in Abu Dhabi last November.
While he was competing in the Middle East, a team of his students were taking London by storm at the BJJ All-stars event.
Preparations for the event were hampered by the pandemic, which caused the BPT gym to close down for some of the build-up. Coach Afonso, however, was keen to keep his team training and delivered several mats from the gym to the homes of his fighters.
‘We were in regular contact with the team,’ he said. ‘I felt it was key to maintain that human interaction from a mental health standpoint.’
Afonso said: ‘Expectations [for the All-stars event] were low. The team were just happy to be able to travel and compete under the circumstances. Perhaps it was a lack of focus placed on the results that freed up the competitors to perform at such a high level.’
Discussing his coaching techniques, Afonso added: ‘Leading by example is so important. We all go through the same challenges in preparation together, so the team have a tendency to listen to me more as a coach who is an active fighter. It is hard to ask your students to try a ridiculous move, when you are not right there with them on the mat giving it a go.’
Afonso added that the nomination is for all of Jersey’s martial arts community.
‘It’s not just me, it’s everyone behind me,’ he said. ‘This is not a one-man show.’
Guernsey Athletics coach Tom Druce, Jersey Bulls manager Gary Freeman and Jersey’s men’s cricket head coach Neil MacRae complete a competitive shortlist for the 2021 Coach of the Year Award.
More in Friday’s JEP.
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JERSEY BULLS manager Gary Freeman says his side will be itching to rid themselves of any festive ‘rust’ at Springfield when they welcome Croydon Athletic.
The Bulls, who were hit by back-to-back postponements at the start of January, have not played a competitive game since 18 December. Their gritty, short-handed win over Knaphill came before a spate of Covid-related issues affected their scheduled home ties against Frimley Green and Beckenham Town.
The Islanders are unbeaten in 15 league games – a record they will be looking to improve on against one of Combined Counties Premier South’s strugglers – but Freeman is well aware how unwelcome breaks can damage match fitness.
‘It is easy to get rusty between fixtures,’ he said. ‘We have been trying to replicate game settings within training, including an 11 v 11 inter-squad game on Tuesday. The pace was frenetic, and all the lads look sharp, so we will be ready to go.’
Despite the South Londoners languishing in 18th place, Freeman stated his squad – will not take them for granted.
He said: ‘This is a highly competitive league, in which even the sides in the bottom half are not pushovers. We have a group of players who have gone 15 games unbeaten in the league, so places in this team are hard to come by.’
Freeman has an enviable task ahead of the fixture as there are no reported injuries within the squad. Euan Van Der Vliet [suspended] and Jack Griffin [unavailable] were the only two ruled out in the build-up.
‘I can’t remember the last time this was the case, so I have some tough decisions to make in respect to the team against Croydon.’
Robbie Scott, who replaced Van Der Vliet after his dismissal against Knaphill, looks set to make a start between the sticks for the 4pm kick-off.
Full preview in Friday’s JEP
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SERENA GUTHRIE wants England to test their ‘playing culture and processes’ when they take on three of their main Commonwealth Games rivals in the 2022 Quad Series.
The Islander is set to captain the Roses in the four-nation tournament, which begins on Saturday with back-to-back fixtures at the Copper Box Arena in London.
England meet South Africa at 2pm, before world champions New Zealand take on Australia.
Guthrie and Co will then face the Silver Ferns on Sunday afternoon, before tackling the Australians on Tuesday evening.
All four teams will be aiming to reach the Commonwealth Games final in Birmingham this summer, with England targeting a successful defence of the title they won in 2018.
‘It’s really exciting to have three international teams over our side of the world,’ said Guthrie, who has 106 senior international caps to her name.
‘We haven’t played a Quad Series since 2019, so it’s been a while.
‘It will be good to get back out there and practise going game by game each day and playing different styles, which is what you have to do in a Commonwealth Games or a World Cup.’
The tournament precedes the start of the 2022 Vitality Superleague season, which will again feature Guthrie in the blue and gold of Team Bath.
‘This series will be great experience and preparation for the team heading into the domestic league season,’ she added.
‘It’s also a good opportunity for the whole group to see where we’re at against a variety of styles, figure out how quickly we can adapt and to test our playing culture and our processes.’
The Quad Series final and third-fourth play-off are due to take place on Wednesday evening.
All eight fixtures are being shown live on Sky Sportsand also via the network’s YouTube channel.
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A HUMBLED Charles ‘Chuggy’ Perchard was ‘completely surprised’ when he heard he was nominated for the 2021 Betway CI Sports Personality of the Year award.
The Island’s men’s cricket captain finds himself on a shortlist alongside two professional footballers and an Olympian – all from Guernsey – leaving him feeling ‘out of place’ in a battle for one of the Channel Islands’ showpiece accolades.
Perchard’s nomination follows a standout year in which he captained Jersey Cricket to arguably their best season ever. The Caesareans progressed from the ICC World T20 Europe Qualifier unbeaten for the first time in their history, with Perchard topping the wickets chart alongside team-mate Benjamin Ward, with ten apiece.
But the former De La Salle student is reluctant to take individual credit for the wicket haul. Instead, he was keen to praise Jersey’s ‘brilliant fielding unit’.
‘It makes my job a lot easier when you have a such a capable fielding unit, and one of the best wicket-keepers, in Jake Dunford, around,’ he said.
‘The manner in which we won the tournament unbeaten, and the calibre of the teams we beat along the way was incredible,’ he said. ‘Many of the games we played looked lost, and somehow we came through every one of them.’
Jersey ripped through European powerhouses Germany, Italy and Denmark at the continental tournament in Spain – nations with multiple county cricketers at their disposal.
Perchard credited a ‘never say die’ attitude for those victories and said that resilience is a trait that goes back to Perchard’s early days in Jersey’s senior squad.
Despite leading Jersey to success in the Twenty20 Europe Qualifier in 2019, he admitted their latest success – which propelled them up to an all-time best of 23rd in the men’s ICC T20I world rankings – was more special.
‘It has helped solidify Jersey’s position as one of the best T20 nations in the world,’ he added.
Bristol City midfielder Alex Scott and Brighton & Hove Albion Women defender Maya Le Tissier also feature on the CI Sports Awards’ premier shortlist – as does Olympic Games track athlete Cameron Chalmers.
The winner will be decided by a public vote. Lines are open until Thursday 27 January.
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JERSEY REDS director of rugby Harvey Biljon will appear before a disciplinary panel this week following comments he made at the end of his side’s recent loss to Bedford Blues.
Biljon has been charged with ‘conduct prejudicial to the interests of the union and the game … relating to comments on the match official following games.’
Speaking to the JEP immediately after the Reds’ 28-19 away defeat to Bedford on Boxing Day, Biljon questioned the referee’s decision to send two of his players to the sin bin within 60 seconds of each other.
Biljon felt the decisions cost the Reds the game and he accused the matchday official, George Selwood, of ‘buckling’ under pressure.
More in Wednesday’s JEP.
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GUERNSEY Muratti defender Frank Tobin could make his debut for Jersey Bulls this week, having switched island clubs over the Christmas period.
The former Bristol City junior, who made his 88th appearance for Guernsey FC just last month, has moved to Jersey to begin a new job and is wasting no time in putting any allegiances to one side for the good of his football career. He joined Gary Freeman’s squad for the first time last week and will be in contention for selection when they host AFC Croydon at Springfield on Saturday.
The 27-year-old, who played in Guernsey’s 6-2 league victory over Staines Town on 12 December, has joined the Bulls on a dual-registration deal, making him – in theory at least – still available to appear for Guernsey in Isthmian League South Central.
It is understood that Tobin moved to Jersey in the latter part of 2021 and travelled to continue playing for GFC. However, he has now committed his immediate future to the Bulls and his new Caesarean team-mates.
Bulls head coach Dan Seviour said: ‘Being on an island and with the way our club is set up these opportunities will come to us when people move here from the mainland or from Guernsey.
‘Frank has a background of growing up with Bristol City and has experience of playing a step above us with Guernsey, so it’s a great opportunity for us to add more quality to the group.
‘Looking at his ability, I don’t think he’ll have a problem settling in and we always say that as the team grows the competition will grow. It will benefit the squad and it’s something the players should look forward to.’
The Bristolian made a name for himself after moving to the Channel Islands in 2017, with his searching runs from the heart of the defence proving a useful outlet for Guernsey. He can play in the centre or on the right-hand side of the defensive unit, as well as in midfield.
Bulls manager Gary Freeman confirmed that he has spoken to his opposite number at GFC, Tony Vance, to discuss Tobin’s credentials – and received positive feedback. Vance reportedly ranks the player alongside those at Step 2 of the National League pyramid; three tiers above where the Bulls currently sit.
The finance worker, who also turned heads on the athletics track at Footes Lane – recording the island’s sixth-fastest 200m time in 2019 – was in the Sarnians’ starting XI for the 2019 Muratti Vase final, which Jersey won on penalties following a 0-0 stalemate.
TEAM JETS coach Linda Andrews says league position counts for nothing as her side prepares for a double-header against lower-ranked opposition.
The Islanders will move into the top three in South West Division I if they claim back-to-back victories, although Andrews is wary of the unknown quantity that is Almondsbury, whom they were due to face on Saturday afternoon. And it is already clear that Sunday’s opponents, Hucclecote Stars, will be no pushover – they are one of two sides to have beaten Jets so far this term.
‘It will be the first time we meet Almondsbury this season and we have no illusions that the game will be anything other than highly contested,’ said Andrews.
‘In this league, positions do not count for anything and we will be taking the game quarter by quarter and working through each 15 minutes.’
Jets are without a host of key players through Covid, injury or unavailability – including first-choice shooter Leah Griffin. However, Andrews has a wealth of junior talent to call upon.
‘Shooting duties will fall to Lottie Howe and Maddie Reynolds in place of Leah Griffin, who is one of our casualties to Covid,’ Andrews explained. ‘Lottie and Maddie have come through the junior Jets programme and have been fully committed to the jump up to seniors.’
More in Saturday’s JEP.
FOOTBALLERS should not be forced to take pre-travel PCR Covid tests just to play against Jersey Bulls – because some people ‘don’t believe in Covid’.
That is the view of Beckenham Town officials after their side pulled out of Saturday’s Combined Counties Premier South fixture at Springfield due to a handful of players refusing to adhere to regulations for inbound passengers. And the Kent outfit insist they will not fulfil the fixture with an understrength squad.
Since Tuesday, anyone travelling to Jersey needs either to be fully vaccinated or have a negative PCR test before travel to avoid quarantine.
‘The PCRs are the problem,’ said Beckenham secretary Peter Palmer.
‘In England, there are ten million unvaccinated people. The reason: they don’t believe in Covid. You can’t change people’s minds.
‘We’re not coming over like the other clubs, who come over with half a team. That’s not fair on the league.’
Palmer said the cost of the pre-travel PCRs is also a concern – as is the threat of being forced to take time off work if they test positive.
‘I can’t force them to take the tests, but according to Jersey you have to,’ he added.
‘If they [the players] take a PCR test and it becomes positive, they have to stay indoors for ten days and they are just working-class people.’
What happens next is in the hands of the Combined Counties League.
Its chairman, Chris Conlon, said: ‘It’s not an easy situation. Obviously the restrictions mean people need to be fully vaccinated or take a PCR test before they travel.
‘Most clubs are managing that and it isn’t a big problem. In Beckenham’s case, they are finding it more of a problem to meet those requirements.’
Full story in Thursday’s JEP.
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