DICCON EDWARDS says his Leeds Carnegie side are under starter’s orders ahead of Sunday’s home derby with Doncaster Knights.
The early league table doesn’t make pleasant reading for Carnegie followers, with the promotion favourites having won just once in four Championship outings – losing three times.
Plenty of food for thought arrived in last Saturday’s embarrassing 52-10 loss at Cornish Pirates and after a candid assessment of where they went wrong at Mennaye Field, Edwards is anxious for his troops to heed those words and deliver the perfect response against Knights.
Sorting out the set-piece which didn’t function at Pirates has been at the top of the ‘to-do-list this week, with Edwards also keen for his men – who have been behind at half-time in all their league matches so far in 2011-12 – to race out of the traps tomorrow.
The stats don’t lie with Carnegie yet to score a try in the first half of any league game this term, mustering just 12 points in four matches, while conceding a hefty 68.
Edwards, whose side’s fixture schedule is far more benign over the next month with the likes of London Scottish, Plymouth and Moseley on the horizon following a teak-tough start, said: “We need to make sure we can play at a physical intensity straightaway.
“In all our (Championship) games, we’ve left ourselves with a lot to do at half-time. Our first-half performances need to significantly improve in terms of everything – our energy, ability to deal physically with the driving maul and direct running approach teams are coming with us at.
“We also have to make sure we’re more comfortable on the ball. We’ve looked at those areas. We need to start producing some winning performances now.”
While Carnegie were licking their wounds in the early part of the week following their deflating display in Cornwall, Edwards admits, in the long run, the defeat may not prove to have been a bad thing – but only if his youthful side learn from their experiences.
He added: “Obviously everyone was disappointed, but the key thing is that we do learn from it. It will only have been of benefit to us if we do learn and I know we will.
“It was an exceptionally painful experience at the time, but in the long term, it will be good for us.
“The result last week was hugely disappointing. But we can’t afford to dwell too long on it.
“We had to – and did have – a very honest meeting on Monday to make sure we’re fully aware what is acceptable in terms of level of performance.
“But equally, we also had to make sure we didn’t overfocus on that and looked at where we need to make sure we improve and that’s what we’ve done.
“It’s been a positive week, completing focused on doing the little things better and making sure we look forward to what will be a really physical battle against Doncaster.
“I’ve full confidence in their ability and attitude and we’ve have shown a great work ethic this week. The players have been forthright in terms of where they need to get to and are desperate to put things right in front of their own fans.”
Edwards has made a number of changes to his starting line up. Loan signing Tommy Bell has come in at full-back, with Lee Blackett moving back onto the wing, with Curtis Wilson (ankle) out.
Centre Scott Barrow returns with Joe Barker in at fly-half in place of Joe Ford, who drops to the bench.
Scrum-half Robbie Shaw will make his first start in place of Craig Hampson with Richard Beck and Chris Walker named in the forwards.
Leeds Carnegie: Bell, Richards, Thornley, Barrow, Blackett, Barker, Shaw, Denman, Titterrell, Swainston, Beck, Pendlebury, Rowan, Burrows, Walker. Reps: Freer, Lockwood, Young, Hohneck, Rieder, White, Ford.