YORKSHIRE CARNEGIE head coach Bryan Redpath admitted he did not know why his side were so abject when suffering a shock six-try home defeat to Cornish Pirates.
One thing is for sure, though – unless he gets to the bottom of the issue quickly, more results of this nature will undoubtedly follow and any hopes of promotion back into the Premiership will disappear.
Granted, this was just their second league defeat of the whole season, their first being at unbeaten leaders London Irish back on November 5, and their only home reverse in any competition.
However, the signs had long been there that they were far from infallible; numerous times patchy Carnegie have invited opponents back into games only to recover but, on this occasion, Cornish went for the jugular and finally made them pay.
The hosts largely dominated the first half but gifted their visitors two tries with awful intercept passes, firstly by the woeful Chris Elder as winger Kyle Moyle scored and then Joe Ford, who saw Cornish No8 Tom Duncan rumble in from 40m.
Bizarrely, Cornish did not even have any phases in the hosts’ 22 until as late as the 35th minute when Duncan duly added his second, slipping through untouched as Carnegie’s ruck defence went missing, a sign of things to come.
Still, Phil Nilsen’s two tries from line-out drives allied to seven points from the boot of Alex Davies meant Redpath’s side trailed only 21-17 at the break.
When Ford then dropped a goal two minutes into the second period to narrow the gap further, it seemed Carnegie would rouse from their erratic nature and push home.
How wrong could you be?
Redpath conceded: “Even then (20-21), I never saw us have real confidence in the game. We had a really good set just before that where we actually carried really strongly to get us in that position and then took a drop.
“But on the whole we just weren’t good enough from the start of the game to the end of it.
“I don’t know why. As coaches we will take some responsibility as well, things we may or may not have done in the week – training, selections, anything – it’s not just the players today.
“It was a bit like Ealing away in the B&I Cup where we gave them some free runs and free points. If you do that you get stitched up.”
Cornish, who defended magnificently, grew in confidence and dictated for much of the second period. Scrum-half Alex Day darted past a hapless Charlie Beech for a bonus point try, Brett Beukeboom got another from a driving maul before a splendidly created score for prop Jack Andrew, Laurence May enjoying a 100 per cent conversion rate.
All Carnegie could muster was an effort from Ollie Stedman – who, in fairness, was a marauding force in the back-row alongside No8 Ryan Burrows – in the very final play of the game, Stevie McColl converting.