Leeds Carnegie v Esher: We won’t take our foot off the gas - Edwards

STAYING PUT: Leeds Carnegie have been boosted by the news that England Under-20 captain Jacob Rowan has signed a one-year contract extension.
STAYING PUT: Leeds Carnegie have been boosted by the news that England Under-20 captain Jacob Rowan has signed a one-year contract extension.
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Coach Diccon Edwards wants nothing less than three straight wins to end the regular season as Leeds Carnegie eye an immediate return to the Aviva Premiership.

Leeds will tackle basement boys Esher at Headingley Carnegie on Sunday (3pm) safe in the knowledge that a play-off spot has already been secured courtesy of success in their last outing – a 21-17 success at home to Bedford Blues at the end of January.

But there will be no taking the foot off the pedal at Carnegie with Edwards determined to take a winning mentality into the end-of-season shake-up plus as many bonus points as possible for the pool stage.

Leeds currently sit fifth in the Championship and fourth-placed London Welsh – who Leeds visit next Saturday – are a direct target sitting just three points above them.

Respect

The re-arranged visit to sixth-placed Nottingham – likely to take place next Wednesday – is the only other fixture still to be fulfilled in the regular season and Edwards is laying down the gauntlet for his men to win all three of their final league games.

“We want to go into the play-offs having won our final three league games and Esher is the first of those,” said Edwards.

“We’ll give Esher the respect that they deserve – they are more than capable on their day and we only just beat them away so we have to make sure we do our preparation as thoroughly and professionally as we have done so far this season.

“The higher up the league we finish the more points we will go into the pool games with and that’s one of our goals – we want to make sure we go into the play-offs with as many points as possible.

“We also want to make sure that we go into the play-offs playing well, confident and in good form.”

There is certainly no arguing with Carnegie’s recent record with the side having lost just two of their last 13 league games.

An immediate return to the country’s top flight looks a distinct possibility and Edwards admits promotion has always been this season’s sole aim though the coach is refusing to get carried away.

“Our results have suggested that we are more than capable of beating anyone on our day and we’d love to take that to the next level,” he said.

“The intensity and pressure increases with each game as you get towards the play-offs but we feel that we are dealing with that pressure well.

“We are very confident of winning promotion and that has been this season’s aim from the start but we are taking each game as it comes and Esher is just one of those.

“Getting promotion would be a significant achievement for the club and it would be a huge bonus having had the start that we did.

“We have shown that having the confidence and the trust in players has been the right decision and they are looking forward to the challenge of getting into the Premiership.”

Giant strides are also being made off the pitch with former England Under-20 captain Jacob Rowan having agreed a one-year contract extension and Edwards is confident that similar good news will follow.

“Jacob signing for another year shows where we are going as a club and it’s a huge plus to know that we have got him for the next year,” said Edwards.

“I’m sure that other players will be committing themselves in the next few days.”

Edwards added that recent recruit Halani Aulika is in line for his first start this weekend but second row Tom Denton has been suspended for three weeks, including the week he has already served, as part of an internal investigation by the RFU disciplinary committee.

The club now has until next week to decide whether to appeal the judgment for the offence, committed on New Year’s Day, but Denton will definitely miss Sunday’s game against Esher and could miss any rearranged midweek game against Nottingham as well as next Saturday’s trip to London Welsh.

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