Guernsey look to utilise the spirit of the underdog

The Siam Cup may have evolved in recent years – but Guernsey’s status heading to a clash with Jersey remains all too familiar.

‘We are huge underdogs, purely because we have won one Siam in 13 years, we have not beaten them at their place in 15 years and we did not beat them here in November,’ said the Raiders director of rugby Jordan Reynolds as he named his side for tomorrow’s edition, which is officially the delayed 2021match, at St Peter.

‘We need to take the attitude of underdogs and come out of the blocks firing and prove our worth. We feel we are in a good position to do that, but we are going to have to fight really hard to change our fortunes against them.

‘They have not lost at home since 2007. That will apply a pressure of its own.

‘For us, we feel like we are in a really good position this time around. I know some people would doubt that, saying our form has not been great in the league leading up to this, but we know we have chopped and changed over the last five games and we have done that on purpose. We have a massive amount of confidence in what we have done,’ he added, referring to the rest-and-rotation policy employed following the defeat to Esher on 2 April.

In terms of availability, the approach seems to have worked on the whole with only Joe Andresen of the first-team regulars missing this weekend due to injury and he will be fit for the return 2022 match in a week’s time at Footes Lane.

‘By the end we will have ended up playing 33 games this season and that’s a huge amount of games,’ said Reynolds, who himself was the on-field star when Guernsey last won at St Peter back in 2007.

‘Having the ability to go into these Siams having rejuvenated the group, we hope we can draw some benefits over this week and next week.

Watch highlights from the Centenary Siam Cup played in November:

‘It detracted away from the league season a little and we probably did not get the performances we wanted, although against Canterbury we were good and I look back on that gaining confidence, but I have seen a switch from the players.

‘I have seen a lot more focus, especially around attention to detail. A lot of the stuff we have been doing in training and our analysis has been driven by our vision of where we want to be on the 14th, although we have to be careful as coaches and is has been a regular topic of discussion – have we been building up the occasion in our mind too much?’

He added, though, that back-to-back fixtures almost helps to negate that slight concern.

‘The hard part really is knowing that once we have played there, we have only one week to prepare for that next game and at this level you very rarely play the same opposition twice in a week.

‘Preparing for that will be different, but for us as coaches we are constantly reminding the players that it is not really a double-header because they are single games and whoever wins in Jersey this weekend will be referred to as the 2021 winners, the following week will be the 2022 Siam.’

Of course, due to the disruption caused by the pandemic, this is a three-Siam season with Jersey having edged a hard-fought contest 14-13 at Footes Lane in November, so Reynolds has an idea what to expect from the opposition.

‘They are technically perhaps not as strong as they have been in recent years, but they make up for that in passion. Their line-speed caused us problems [in November] and they defended very well,’ he said.

‘We know from when we played the Siam against pros that we were capable of that sort of defence and that’s all down to courage and willingness. Jersey had a lot of that in November and I think that was an eye-opener for some of our group.

‘Playing them away really does take the pressure off us and there must be a huge amount of pressure on them because losing one at home would be massive for them. Therefore, we have to ensure we apply our own pressure on them for 80 minutes.’

Guernsey Raiders Siam Cup team

(1-15) Sam Steventon, Tom Ceillam, Jacob Pinkney, Lewis Hillier, Brad Webb, Oscar Baird, Dom Rice, Doug Horrocks, Charlie Simmonds, Owen Thomas, Matt Armstrong, Charlie Davies, Callum Roberts, Anthony Armstrong, Luke Sayer. Replacements: Dan Morgan, Darrin Bellingham, Matt Thomas, Liam Welch, Dale Rutledge, Ciaran McGann, Ethan Smith.

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