Yorkshire Carnegie head coach Bryan Redpath praised his side after they secured maximum points over the Christmas and new year as they ran out 45-29 winners at relegation-threatened Ealing Trailfinders in the first game of the year.
Carnegie backed up their bonus-point win over Rotherham at Christmas as they ran in seven tries.
Speaking after the game, Redpath said: “The boys came with a positive mindset from the off today and that showed itself in the opening 20 minutes when we started so well in wet and blustery conditions. We came into this four-game block looking to gain some consistency and we have managed to win all four games.”
“I am delighted for the boys, they have had to take some criticism because of the narrow defeats we have suffered already this year, but I am really pleased for them that they have got these results especially with a week off this week,” added Redpath.
The visitors made the best possible start in the wet and murky conditions as they raced out to a 14-0 lead inside the opening 20 minutes with Jonah Holmes and Andy Saull.
Holmes showed great footwork to create the first before Saull finished off a fine team try. Kevin Sinfield converted both and Carnegie appeared to be in a comfortable position.
However, Ealing showed their fighting spirit and signaled their intent before half-time with some strong play. They had only two Alex Davies penalties to show for their efforts but they had cut the gap at half-time.
At the start of the second half they gave the visitors a real scare. Winger Callum Wilson was awarded a try in the corner despite being under heavy pressure from the visitors’ defence and Davies then levelled the game with his third penalty of the afternoon at 14-14.
However, that was as close as the home side got to causing an upset as Yorkshire took control of the game after that and took the result beyond any doubt.
A penalty try from a line out close to the Ealing line got them off the mark before David Doherty marked his 100th appearance in all competitions for the club with a well-finished try after he regathered Pete Lucock’s grubber kick to score in the corner. Sinfield added the conversion to give his side a 28-17 lead after Davies had kicked a fourth penalty for the home side between the tries.
A second penalty try followed as Ealing found themselves down to 13 men following two yellow cards for deliberately bringing down a maul before Ryan Burrows crossed from close range. Doherty, who proved more than a handful for Ealing, finished the visitors’ scoring with his second try.
Ealing rallied late on searching for a bonus point when replacement hooker Alun Walker crossed, but it was in vain and Yorkshire Carnegie had got the new year off to a perfect start.
Ealing Trailfinders: Daniels, Wilson (Harries, 72), Barnes, Munro, Stephenson, Roberts, A Davies (Alex Walker, 74), W Davis (Porter, 76), Lawrence (c) (Alun Walker, 73), Penny (Rodman, 63), C Jones (Hannay, 67), L Jones, Orr, Ellis (Kenny, 62), York.
Yorkshire Carnegie: Holmes, Doherty, Lucock, Leonard (Forsyth, 73), Prell, Sinfield (Hodgson, 73), Pilgrim, Imiolek (Beech, 63), Nilsen, O’Donnell (Hooper, 53), Schofield (Myerscough, 63), Jones (c) (Smith, 73) Beck, Saull, Burrows.
Referee: Matthew O’Grady.
Otley suffered a disappointing start to 2016, losing 33-12 at Leicester Lions and allowing the opposition to leapfrog them in the National Two North table.
The visitors went into the game two points and one place ahead of the Lions but without a win against them on the road.
Leicester are unbeaten on their own turf this season and their first-half performance showed why. The hosts dominated the set play and racked up a 19-0 half-time lead. But Otley set about making a recovery. Tries by second-row Decan Dunn and winger Kristian Sharples, one of them converted by skipper Stephen Depledge, reduced the arrears to seven points.
Leicester responded in equal measure, though, and went back to basics with more solid forward play allowing them to add a bonus-point try and kill off the game as a contest.
Sandal conceded four tries in the second quarter of their trip to Stourbridge and lost 33-15 also in National Two North.
The visitors made a bright start in the first 20 minutes and twice hit the posts with kicks to prevent them taking a deserved lead. However, a purple patch before half-time cost Sandal a 26-3 half-time deficit, leaving them a mountain to climb. To their credit a second-half rally, including tries from prop Luke Norbury and winger Simon Frewin, and a Greg Wood conversion, was an improvement but too little too late.
Huddersfield were beaten 20-17 at home by fellow strugglers Tynedale to kick off 2016 with troublesome thoughts of relegation.
The two sides went into the game, with the visitors four points ahead with a game in hand, knowing that a win would be a big step for either. Huddersfield took a 10-3 advantage thanks to an early penalty followed by a try from hooker Lewis Bradley, converted by Chris Bell. But two tries in nine minutes from Tynedale turned the game on its head and saw them leading 17-10 at the break. A penalty extended that to 20-10 until replacement winger Tom Kanouras scored a converted try in the final quarter to earn a losing bonus.
Elsewhere in National One, Wharfedale slipped to a 25-10 defeat at Esher.