Yorkshire Carnegie captain Ryan Burrows admits his side are in a ‘lull’ as they seek to bounce back from last week’s humiliating derby defeat.
Carnegie were nilled at home for the first time in a decade, with fans having to go back two name changes and to the heady days of a Heineken Cup campaign to find a 23-0 shutout at Headingley against Edinburgh on January 18, 2004.
With the greatest of respect, Rotherham Titans in the Championship is not men from the Scottish capital in Europe’s premier competition.
Nevertheless, it was former Leeds winger Lee Blackett who left with the spoils as his Rotherham side executed a solid game plan to send Yorkshire to their third defeat of the season and a second to a county rival already this term.
A fourth defeat in six league games leaves Gary Mercer’s side eighth in the table after a quarter of the season, and seven points adrift of the top four and the promotion play-offs.
They head to Bedford tonight – another established club fallen on hard times – hoping to rediscover the attacking form that has seen them win on three successive league visits to Goldington Road.
They have scored no fewer than 29 points on each of those occasions, having failed to register even a single penalty goal against the Titans last week.
“We’ve got to put things right. We’re in a bit of a lull at the minute and it’s down to us as players and us as a team to put that right,” said captain Burrows.
“We didn’t put in an 80-minute performance against Rotherham and it was very disappointing to lose at home.
“For some reason we’re not performing just yet and we have to find that magic formula. We’ve got a great chance at Bedford. That’s the beauty of sport, there’s always another game right around the corner.
“We’ll be working hard to get the result down in Bedford which is what we desperately need.”
Asked to expand on what has gone wrong for a side who traditionally challenge for promotion, Burrows added: “It’s difficult to put your finger on one thing we’re not doing right, or not doing so well.
“It feels like a lull and it’s a difficult place to be at the minute results-wise. But on paper, we’re a good team and we’re a strong team and we’ve got to keep believing in that. We know that once we get that positive result we’ve got to stay on top of it, week after week.”
Reflecting on the Rotherham humbling, Burrows said: “It was very hurtful being nilled. But the good thing is we never stopped trying. The lads are putting in 100 per cent out there for each other and that’s what we need to keep doing, playing for each other and playing for the fans. The results will start to come.”
Burrows and his team have spent the week attempting to put to bed last week’s dire performance, after they were taken to task by Mercer and the coaching staff.
“We’ve got to take it on the chin, we’re professional sportsmen and we’re not performing,” he said. “It’s like anybody – if you’re not performing in your job then get ready for the rollicking from your manager.”
Mercer has made five changes to his side for the trip to Bedford tonight. Three of the changes come in the back line with Rob Vickerman returning to replace Pete Lucock, David Doherty overcoming injury to return in place of David McIlwaine and youngster Matt Dudman getting his chance to impress at scrum-half.
In the pack, 18-year-old hooker Jack Walker will start his first league game having featured off the bench against Rotherham whilst Lee Imiolek replaces Ben Harris at loose-head prop.
On the bench, Paul Hill could make his first appearance in the league while Phil Nilsen and Oli Goss also return to the squad.