We can push Irish all the way insists coach Redpath

Yorkshire Carnegie's Pete Lucock

Yorkshire Carnegie's Pete Lucock

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AS they reach the Championship campaign’s halfway stage, head coach Bryan Redpath remains adamant Yorkshire Carnegie are good enough to finally earn promotion to the Premiership.

AS they reach the Championship campaign’s halfway stage, head coach Bryan Redpath remains adamant Yorkshire Carnegie are good enough to finally earn promotion to the Premiership.

On paper, at least, you can see why; ahead of tonight’s visit from Bedford Blues, they have won 10 of their 11 league games so far and sit handily in second.

However, their one defeat was by a margin of 41-17 at London Irish and the manner of that loss suggested their unbeaten title rivals – who have retained a Premiership squad since suffering relegation in May – will be too strong for anyone come play-offs time.

Redpath admitted Irish were “the better team” in that match last month and, given his own side have switched off at various times this term, almost coming unstuck at part-time, bottom-placed Richmond last Friday, it is easy to see understand why they are such favourites.

However, the former Scotland scrum-half does not believe they will be unbeatable when it comes to the business end of the season – if his Carnegie squad start improving now.

“Even before we played Irish, I spoke to the players in the hotel that night and there was 17 of the 24 who travelled that day who had played in the Premiership,” he said.

“Yes, primarily, they (Irish) have their whole squad that has been in there.

“But, we have to believe we can compete if we take on the little things we need to take on.

“Every player taking on one or two things, cutting out one error, sticking with it, being more consistent in that arm-wrestle and that’s the difference. When we back out of the arm-wrestle as we think we need to do something different, the game can suddenly go from 10 points to 20 points just like that.

“Simple little errors cost us at Irish, errors that got highlighted probably only against a Premiership side.

“We have to make sure we don’t just gloss over it and say ‘well it’s because they’re a Premiership side’.

“We need to learn, see how simple they made that game and how quickly they took the game away from us.

“I do believe the players are good enough to do that and can do it.”

Carnegie beat Bedford Blues 52-28 in a British & Irish Cup game at Selby RUFC in October and tonight’s opponents have lost seven of their 10 Championship fixtures so far.

However, Redpath insisted: “They’ve got some talented players and if you switch off against them they make it hard for you.

“They are more than capable. If you go back to our game away from home last year when we were 21-9 up...

“We should never have lost the game and we did 22-21.

“They came back and scored two tries from turnovers in opposition half; they are dangerous and whatever happened in the B&I Cup that’s not something we’ve paid attention to.

“We need to make sure we go in and finish this off.

“We could be feeling everything’s rosy as we’ve won 10 from 11 and we’re 12 points clear of third. We should compliment that.

“But every player needs to now cut out that one error per game and if they do that over these next 12 games we’ll be in a really good position for play-off rugby.”

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CENTRE Pete Lucock and back-row Richard Beck both make their 100th appearance for Yorkshire Carnegie tonight.

Each start in the game against Bedford Blues at Headingley with head coach Bryan Redpath making five changes to the side that narrowly beat Richmond last week.

“It’s great to see both reach this milestone,” said Redpath.

“Both have had different paths in terms of consistency in selection whether Pete playing all the time at 12 or 13, he’s been outstanding since I came in.

“He’s a very talented player and would love to see him compete against the big boys in the Premiership hopefully with Carnegie.

“Becky’s had his shoulder issues but battled through them and has played lock these last few weeks.

“He wants to play six, seven or eight – he just wants to play – and does the hard yards for us, is a very skilful ball-carrier and, like Pete, brings passion to it all for us.”

Andy Forsyth returns to the centre to partner Lucock who reverts to inside centre.

Alex Davies also comes in at scrum-half and leads the side, too, with captain Ryan Burrows starting on the bench after suffering from illness this week. Dan Sanderson returns at lock allowing Beck to move to blindside flanker.

Hooker Ross Graham replaces Mike Mayhew and Chris Walker starts at openside, Andy Saull (eye) dropping to the replacements.