If only Leeds Carnegie could find some consistency. Diccon Edwards’ men swept aside the Cornish Pirates with a supreme second-half display, but it was almost predictable given their ability to do the unexpected.
Leeds have shown some aptitude to compete with the best – the 13-9 defeat to Newcastle Falcons in early February was testament to that – but when it comes to stringing a run of form together, their inexperience has told.
“The continual challenge for us is that we’ve got to back it up,” said Edwards.
“We know what it feels like in training, we know what it feels like in a game so we’ve got to back that up consistently now.
“We’ll continue to drive our standards in training and I’m very confident that will translate into a good performance against London Scottish.”
After bottom club Doncaster were given a lead that proved insurmountable for Leeds to bridge two weeks ago, Edwards must have wondered whether his side’s slow starts were becoming a recurring theme.
Two tries in the first 14 minutes for an inventive Pirates outfit was their reward for capitalising on loose play from the hosts.
Although Rory Clegg proved to be typically accurate from the tee in the second minute, the Cornishmen took control.
Grant Pointer’s audacious off-load sent Ashley Smith clear and, despite impressive cover defence preventing the wing from crossing, prop Paul Andrew was on hand to touch down.
A second try was soon forthcoming for the visitors when Phil Nilsen spilled the ball in midfield and Kieran Hallett collected his own grubber through.
The stand-off converted the try and Pirates led 12-3.
However, with the boot of Clegg, Leeds were always in touch and his three penalties reduced the arrears to 15-12 at the interval, with Hallett kicking the Pirates’ first half three-pointer.
But what was to come in the second period was probably one of Carnegie’s most coherent displays of the season. They were soon ahead when Ryan Burrows went on a charge and Matt Smith was on his shoulder to go over.
Successive Clegg penalties then extended the advantage to 25-15 before Aaron Penberthy gave the Cornishmen hope.
In the end, Leeds were too good. David Doherty finished in the corner after good work from Stevie McColl and Lee Imiolek crossed the whitewash from a powerful driving maul.
But Matt Evans’ last-minute try prevented Carnegie from finding a bonus-point score.
Leeds Carnegie: McColl; Clark (Currie 34-44), Goss, Burdon, D. Doherty; Clegg, Hampson (J. Doherty 61); Harris (Imiolek 67), Nilsen (Freer 48), Tussac (Currie 67); Green, Smith; Baldwin, Rowan (capt), Burrows (Walker 61). Not used: Phillips, Ford.
Cornish Pirates: Pointer; Smith, Riley, Fatialofa (Cattle 53), Evans; Hallett (Penberthy 63), Kessell; Andrew (Storer 27), Elloway (Semmens 63), Prescott; Lyons, Johnson; Burgess, Cheesman, Marriott (capt) (Tyas 63). Not used: Joyce, Barry.
Referee: J. Meredith (RFU).