LEEDS CARNEGIE skipper Jacob Rowan insists his side’s discipline will be spot on for the crunch game against London Welsh.
They head to the Championship leaders tomorrow bidding to gain revenge for a narrow 31-24 reverse at Headingley in early November.
Back then, four Alex Davies penalties really hurt Jimmy Lowes’ side and Rowan is fully aware of the need to eradicate gifting such chances at Oxford’s Kassam Stadium.
Depending on other results, third-placed Leeds could go top if they prosper and take pole position in the ultra-competitive Championship.
“Last time Gordon Ross missed a few kicks early on and Welsh started really well putting us under a lot of pressure,” recalled Rowan.
“But we managed to get a foothold in the game and were 12 points up with 65 minutes played.
“Ill discipline took its toll though. Welsh started kicking their threes over and eventually took the win.
“We know how important keeping our discipline is now. We’ve worked on it a lot in the last few weeks and I think it is showing but we have to make sure it’s right on Sunday.
“We can’t afford to give away kickable penalties against London Welsh again.”
Ex-Scotland fly-half Ross, who won the Powergen Cup with Leeds in 2005, is one of the three former Carnegie players in the hosts’ ranks along with British Lion Andy Titterrell and flanker Daniel Browne.
Welsh, early season pacesetters after being relegated from the Premiership, aren’t infallible at home having lost to London Scottish before Christmas.
Leeds, meanwhile, are seeking a ninth consecutive win after last Sunday’s victory against Bristol also saw them secure a place in the British & Irish Cup quarter-finals.
Rowan believes this is the club’s best chance of getting back into the Premiership after a three-year exile.
“I think it is,” he added. “We’ve touched on just how much competition there is for that top four with Welsh, Rotherham and Bristol.
“But we’re in a strong position in the league and getting stronger. We’re confident. We’ve had a good run in the B & I Cup and a great win against Bristol who are a strong outfit and had a good team out.
“We’re happy with that performance but we still have things to work on.
“We’ve taken that confidence into training this week, though, and hopefully it’ll show at Welsh.
“We’ve made two good signings recently in the backs – Rob Vickerman and Jon Clarke – who can only better our chances (of promotion) and we are all pushing and striving towards this ultimate goal.”
Coach Jimmy Lowes has made a raft of changes for this seismic affair.
Ex-Northampton centre Clarke will start his first game in the Championship for Leeds having featured in the last two B & I Cup games and he partners winger Vickerman in a new-look right-side combination.
James Doherty starts at scrum-half after his man of the match display against Bristol, Craig Hampson dropping to the bench, while Ben Hooper comes in at tighthead prop, with Charlie Beech recalled by Bath. Nathan Hannay replaces Matt Smith (dead leg) whilst there is a welcome return for Ryan Burrows for his first game since November 16.
Rowan had been deputising for him at No8 but now returns to openside.
“It was just to fill a gap,” he said. “Ryan has been out after a knee operation but he’s back now which is good as he’s a great ball carrier and big addition for us.”
Lowes added: “We challenged London Welsh at home and were really disappointed on the back of that result, but we took quite a bit out of that game.
“I thought our error rate was way too high so that’s something we addressed straight away and we also had quite a big penalty count against us and because of those two areas we lost control of the game. Hopefully we’ve come a long way from that and our penalty count has decreased a lot.
“It’s more about getting a good performance and a good result down at London and I’m not really bothered about any messages that we send out to other teams.
“It’s us against London Welsh at the moment and that’s all the lads and myself are concerned about.”