Leeds Carnegie look back to keep their hopes alive

READY FOR ACTION: Winger Lee Blackett will be back for Leeds Carnegie tomorrow when they face Bedford Blues in their third play-offs match.

READY FOR ACTION: Winger Lee Blackett will be back for Leeds Carnegie tomorrow when they face Bedford Blues in their third play-offs match.

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DICCON EDWARDS is urging his Leeds Carnegie side to rewind the clock in tomorrow’s critical Pool B home clash with Bedford Blues (3pm).

Carnegie, reeling from last weekend’s abject loss to Rotherham Titans, welcome Mike Rayer’s pool leaders, knowing they dare not fail if they want to keep their promotion dream alive.

Edwards’ side are currently bottom of Pool B, nine points behind tomorrow’s visitors who have chalked up back-to-back wins over Rotherham Titans and Cornish Pirates.

But if Carnegie require any inspiration, they need only hark back to their two league meetings against the Blues which resulted in two wins.

Sparkling

Carnegie produced arguably their best performance of the season in a sparkling 45-28 win at Goldington Road at the end of October before triumphing 21-17 in the reverse fixture at Headingley in late January.

And it goes without saying that Carnegie will welcome a hat-trick of wins, with the reverse clash next Saturday.

On tomorrow’s clash with Bedford, who have dug deep to come from behind to clinch their two pool wins, Edwards said: “Bedford are going to be a tough team. But we have beaten them home and away in the league, so it’s not as if we can’t beat them.

“We can draw on those experiences to make sure we get our game right.

“We recognise the tough challenge, but we do believe that we’ll get the response we desire (after Rotherham).

“Bedford are a very good side and you don’t get a five-point win at Rotherham if you are not. they challenge you with the ball in hand and have a finishing ability and attacking threat.

“These double-headers will determine what happens in the pool. I think we’ve got a real opportunity to focus on Bedford, with playing them back to back and what opportunities it presents to come out with two wins.

“If we do that, we’ll be in a strong position to go into the final two pool games.

“We’ve got to use our opportunities to put Bedford under pressure.

“Looking at the play-offs as a whole with Bristol snatching a last-second penalty to get a draw at home to London Welsh, you appreciate that the pressure and intensity goes up to that next level. After the two games we’ve had, we now know exactly what we need to do to get the best out of ourselves.”

Edwards has made three changes for tomorrow.

Experienced winger Lee Blackett returns to the side in place of Pete Lucock, who is amongst the replacements, whilst the other two changes come in the pack with Jon Pendlebury and Sean Hohneck both recalled after injury, replacing Tom Denton and Dan Hemingway in the second row.

Meanwhile, Edwards confirmed that injury-plagued centre Lachlan Mackay – who will not be in action this weekend after recently making his comeback with Harrogate seconds – remains on schedule to return to first-team action in the near future.

He said: “We decided that Lachlan will not play this weekend. He had his recent run-out and came through unscathed and got some match fitness.

“We’re adopting a softly-softly approach, but it won’t be long before he’s back on the pitch.”

Leeds Carnegie: Bell, McColl, Thornley, Barrow, Blackett, Ford, Cliff, Lockwood, Titterrell (capt), Aulika, Pendlebury; Hohneck, Williamson, Rowan, Burrows. Replacements: Nilsen, Mustafa, Hemingway, Beck, Shaw, Davies, Lucock.

Callum Irvine. Picture Scott Merrylees

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