Hooker Buckle’s hat-trick ties Titans in knots

Joe Buckle scores one of his three tries
Joe Buckle scores one of his three tries
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WITH the dominance of driving mauls in modern-day rugby, it is becoming increasingly common to witness hookers scoring hat-tricks.

Joe Buckle was the latest yesterday as he claimed three tries to see Yorkshire Carnegie become the latest side to vanquish hapless Rotherham Titans.

Ronnie O'Sullivan

Ronnie O'Sullivan

The 24-year-old, who arrived from Jersey in the summer, now has six tries in 12 games and is the second hooker at his club to claim a treble this term after Mike Mayhew did so against Bedford Blues in October.

It was all too simple at times for Carnegie, who ensured their Yorkshire rivals slumped to an 11th straight league defeat, Titans remaining rooted to the foot of the Championship table still without a win.

Indeed, Jimmy Lowes’s side –with scrum-half Will Homer and blindside Richard Beck in sterling form – had picked up their try bonus point within just 31 minutes after utterly destroying Rotherham up front.

Four of their five first-half tries came from driving mauls with the visitors’ pack simply unable to contain their rivals whenever they got anywhere near the line.

Pete Lucock

Pete Lucock

Buckle initially profited with two tries, his second – the one that secured that bonus point –coming after line-out drive that trundled infield from fully 25m out.

Frustratingly for Rotherham, it came straight after they had scored a try of their own, offering a smidgen of hope that was soon wiped out. It was well-created effort, too, winger Ben Foley getting over after a lovely swift pass from his openside Charlie Maddison tight to the right touchline.

Foley will have been grateful; earlier in the passage of play, he had been unleashed from further out but was tackled by full-back Chris Elder after ignoring inside support.

Lee Millar, a late switch from full-back to fly-half after Caolan Ryan pulled out with a groin strain, missed the conversion attempt but later – quite bizarrely given his side were already 26-8 down – added his second penalty of the afternoon.

Why Rotherham did not want to kick to the corner themselves is anyone’s guess.

Regardless, after one of their kicks was charged down by Carnegie, they conceded another penalty and this time the hosts’ stormed over at pace with a drive that saw Richard Mayhew come up with the ball.

Homer added the fifth of his six conversions for a 33-11 interval lead, their other try coming from Pete Lucock, the fly-half who followed up his own grubber to touch down after lethargic Rotherham failed to react.

Foley spilled the kick-off at the start of the second period to gift Carnegie yet more possession but the way they then defended from the scrum was shambolic.

Homer put on a runaround and watched as the defensive line opened up for him to send Chris Elder sliding through.

In fairness, Andy Key’s side –only denied their first win against London Scottish by a cruel injury-time effort the week before – at least started to compete better after that.

Nevertheless, they still did nothing with their hard-earned territory, offering little of attacking quality.

Instead, when Homer made a brilliant long clearance kick downfield, Will Thomas made a hash of trying to keep it in play, only knocking it into touch and handing Carnegie another line-out from which Buckle completed his hat-trick in the 63rd minute. The hosts saw winger Darren Atkins, on dual-registration from Bath, make his debut off the bench while prop Richard Thraves also entered the fray only to be sin-binned within barely a minute.

Even then Rotherham could not capitalise and they seem destined to be relegated this season.

The British & Irish Cup next weekend at least offers them some respite from their league travails but that is putting a positive spin on matters at Clifton Lane. With back-to-back wins, Carnegie, meanwhile, are in a far healthier spot as they prepare to head to Huddersfield YMCA on Saturday to face Dragons Premiership Select in the B&I Cup.

Yorkshire Carnegie: Elder; Watkins (Beech 73), Forsyth, Casson (Burdon 48), Brown (Atkins 61); Lucock, Homer; Thomas (Capps 76), Buckle (Newborn 76), Beech (Thraves 65), Whetton (West 58), Myerscough, Beck, Mayhew, Stedman (Bainbridge 58).

Rotherham Titans: Thomas; Foley, Cheshire, Tibbetts, Hamilton; Millar, Davies; Toby Williams (Tom Williams 61), Cole (Murphy 61), Shields (Palmer 66) , Postlethwaite (Burns 67), Hodge (Lasis 40), Calladine, Maddison, Peters.

Referee: Dean Richards (RFU)

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