LEEDS CARNEGIE’S prospects of play-off glory may be remote, but Diccon Edwards insists tomorrow’s Pool B derby at Rotherham Titans (3pm) has plenty riding on it – both for individuals and the team.
Appropriately enough with the World Snooker Championships upon us in Sheffield next week, Carnegie need the equivalent of snookers to progress into the knock-out stages of the Championship play-offs with two games to go.
A non-negotiable is a “revenge” victory at Clifton Lane tomorrow, while then keeping fingers firmly crossed that Bedford Blues can do Carnegie a massive favour by beating Cornish Pirates in the south west on Sunday – and hopefully deny them a losing bonus point – to set up a winner-takes-all Headingley clash against Pirates tomorrow week.
There are several other variables that might come into play, but the bottom line is that Carnegie – in third place in their pool with two draws and two losses from their four matches so far – simply must beat Titans tomorrow.
Many bookies may not touch Carnegie’s slim play-off hopes with a bargepole, but regardless of that, head coach Edwards insists tomorrow’s Titans clash is a big game in its own right, with memories of Andre Bester’s troops’ 20-3 pool game pummelling that they administered on Carnegie fresh in the mind.
There’s also the far-from-inconsequential factor of Yorkshire pride at stake, with bottom-placed Titans just one point behind third-placed Carnegie in the pool, while the future of several players, whose contracts expire shortly, is also on the line.
Edwards, who revealed that Carnegie are close to announcing several signings for next term, having agreed deals with a couple of players, said: “There’s lots of reasons why we need to perform, individually and collectively. Players have to justify whether they get contracts, while we all want to finish on a positive note and establish ourselves for next season.
“There’s also pride to play for, which is a massive thing in terms of Yorkshire. We want to establish ourselves as the number one side in the county and to do that you have to win at Clifton Lane.
“If nothing else, we have to make sure that is the outcome.”
On the play-off predicament that Carnegie currently find themselves in, Edwards added: “We’ve had a bit of soul-searching in the past few weeks and there’s obviously a huge disappointment about the situation that we find ourselves in.
“We felt a bit sorry for ourselves after the second Bedford game as we hoped we would have got more. But you can’t afford, in any team sport, to dwell too long on things.
“You’ve got to get back up and come out fighting and that’s the attitude the boys have shown.
“We’ve got to make sure we go into the Rotherham game with the right attitude to get the win we need.
“Obviously, we find ourselves relying on Bedford’s result. But it would be a travesty if Bedford get a result at Pirates and we haven’t done what we needed to do.
“Our sole and only focus is turning the tables after what was a hugely-disappointing performance in the first pool game against Rotherham.
“We need to assert ourselves and get the performance and result we require.
“We must make sure that our attitude is spot on. We all know what a tough place Clifton Lane is, while it’s also their last home game of the season so they will want to go out with a win.”
Injured lock Jon Pendlebury will miss out on a clash against his former side and hometown club, while the game comes just too soon for injury-jinxed centre Lachlan Mackay.
On Mackay, Edwards said: “It’s really frustrating as he’s not that far away.
“We could probably play him, but he’s not quite right. I’m sure he’d get through, but when you are playing a team like Rotherham, it’s not enough just to get through when not on full power.”
Meanwhile, prop Phil Swainston will join London Wasps next season, while Tom Denton has been linked with a move to Leinster.
Leeds Carnegie: Bell, McColl, Thornley, Davies, Lucock, Ford, Cliff, MacDonald, Titterrell, Aulika, Beck, Hohneck, Williamson, Rowan, Burrows. Replacements: Freer, Denman, Mustafa, Hemingway, Walker, Shaw, Blackett.