Ulster Ravens’ knockout hopes dangling by a thread ahead of Jersey clash

Ulster Ravens captain Lewis Stevenson
Ulster Ravens captain Lewis Stevenson

Ulster Ravens resume their British and Irish Cup campaign with a trip to Jersey - the side they beat 24-19 at Ravenhill - but their hopes of reaching the knockout stages are dangling by a thread.

The competition is run on the same basis as the Heineken Cup with the six pool winners and two best runners up qualifying for the quarter finals.

The Cornish Pirates have already won Pool Six with a maximum of 20 points from their four games while the Ravens are second with nine points.

Allen Clarke’s side have won two and lost two of their four games and realistically will need two bonus point wins in the last two games and hope a lot of other results go their way.

Clarke has named a strong line-up for the trip to the Channel Islands with 13 of the starters having represented the senior team.

Lock Lewis Stevenson captains the side and is joined in the engine room by Neil McComb.

There is a first start for Instonians openside flanker Josh Atkinson, who is joined in the backrow by Ireland U20 flanker Connor Joyce and No8 Michael McComish.

Kyle McCall starts at loose head, Ricky Lutton is on the tight side with Niall Annett hooking, while Michael Heaney and James McKinney form a strong half back partnership.

Dungannon duo Chris Cochrane and Peter Nelson are on the wings while David McIlwaine at full back. Ricky Andrew and Stuart McCloskey are in midfield.

Queen’s provide three of the players on the bench, lock Marc Campbell, loose forward Locran Dow and winger David Busby.

Ballymena’s Andrew Warwick’s All Ireland League form has earned him a spot among the replacements with club colleague David Shanahan with Dungannon front rowers Paul Jackson and Adam Macklin completing the team.

Jersey have a new head coach in Harvey Biljon who has joined from Cornwall and only arrived last Sunday as he finds his feet forward coach Steve Boden has picked the side to face the Ravens.

Jersey are three points behind the Ravens and there is a start for former Ulster out half Niall O’Connor although Mark McCrea who played in the game at Ravenhill is not in the squad.

Alex Rae, a try scorer at Ravenhill, captains Jersey from the second row and tight head prop David Young is the only survivor from the front row from the October game.