Diccon Edwards has challenged his revitalised Leeds Carnegie troops to produce some home fireworks on Sunday – after last weekend’s spectacular show at Bedford Blues.
Carnegie are hunting a fifth successive league win – something they last achieved at the end of their 2008-09 National One promotion season – when they entertain Nottingham tomorrow (3pm) and are oozing with confidence after a remarkable 45-28 victory against the now-deposed Championship leaders at Goldington Road.
Edwards described smashing Bedford on their own patch as his best moment since taking over the coaching reins in the close season, but now he wants Carnegie to produce a convincing home display – something they haven’t managed in five league matches at Headingley to date.
Despite recording three home victories so far term Carnegie have looked anything but the real deal, scraping past Bristol, Moseley and Plymouth late on with the outcome of each of those matches in doubt until the dying stages.
It’s an area Edwards wants to remedy and where better to start than against another side set be in the play-off mix at the business end of the season in Nottingham, especially as a victory would see Carnegie leapfrog their opponents in the table.
Edwards said: “Nottingham are equally as strong, if not stronger, than Bedford, but in different ways. And we now need to try and put in a dominant home performance to go with our recent away displays.
“We’re excited about being back at home and playing in front of our supporters and showing how far we’ve come, even though it’s only two weeks since our previous home performance.
“We hope to show what we can do in front of a decent crowd and show we’re getting better.
“Taking Worcester out of this league has made it consistently competitive, week in, week out. You simply can’t go into any game being complacent and on any given day every team is capable of beating anybody else. What we’ve got to make sure is that our level of performance is consistently high and that will hopefully bring more positive results than negative ones.
“We hadn’t been good at times this season, but now we’re getting better and more and more competitive as we knew we would. We know were only going to get better.
Edwards, who is eager for his men to prove the performance at Bedford was no flash in the pan, added: “Undoubtedly, it was my proudest moment as Leeds coach. There have been lots of positive moments this season but as an overall team performance, and a coming together, it was as good as we’ve been.
“But we feel there’s much more improvement to come.
“We spoke about coming of age as a team before the game and also about making a statement to the league of our intent and about where we want to get to.
“We not only delivered the result, but did it in such a positive way after having dealt with adversity.
“We’ve found it tough at times, but we’ve kept true to what we believe in, and the spirit of the team, and we got the rewards.”
Edwards makes four changes to his side, winger Stevie McColl (shoulder) is ruled out so Lee Blackett starts and USA international Robbie Shaw gets the nod at scrum-half with Craig Hampson among the replacements.
In the forwards, Phil Swainston is preferred at tight head prop so David Young drops to the bench, while Richard Beck comes in for Dominic Barrow in the back row.
On the bench, Peter Lucock returns from injury and Alex Rieder comes in for Barrow.
Leeds Carnegie: Bell, Stephenson, Thornley, Barker, Blackett, Ford, Shaw, Denman, Nilsen, Swainston, Denton, Hohneck, Beck, Walker, Rowan (c); Replacements: Freer, Lockwood, Young, Hemingway, Rieder, Hampson, Lucock.