Tommy mcgee says he is eager to grasp the Yorkshire Carnegie head coaching opportunity with both hands after a performance which strengthened his chances of keeping the job long-term.
The stand-in head coach has been handed the reins for the foreseeable future having been initially asked to take charge of the three games of the British and Irish Cup pool stage in the wake of Gary Mercer’s departure. But after wins in the first two he has been asked to continue. for the time being. Then on Saturday at Clifton Lane, he oversaw his best and sweetest victory of that reign as Carnegie gained revenge on Rotherham for two demoralising defeats earlier in the season.
“I’m very pleased and very proud to be in this position,” said McGee, 35, who played for the club in the Premiership and returned as forwards coach two years ago. “I’ll just do the best I can and work really hard and honestly and get the boys playing the style we know they can play.”
Asked if an indefinite timeframe concerned him, McGee responded: “No, not at all. In life you take the opportunities you deserve and I’ll certainly work hard to make the most of this one and we’ll see what happens.
“If we can keep putting in performances like that things will take care of themselves.”
And that against a team that on its day can score tries at will, Carnegie absorbed everything the hosts could throw at them save for the final 10 minutes when Rotherham chucked the kitchen sink in as well as they sought the losing bonus point that would secure them a home quarter-final.
A breakaway try by Jonah Holmes and an opportunist lunge by scrum-half Chris Pilgrim, both converted by Harry Leonard, gave Carnegie a 14-0 interval lead that owed much to their resolute defence.
McGee’s defensive lineout put the Titans’ pack on the back foot while the visitors were indebted to try-saving tackles by Charlie Beech and Ryan Burrows.
Max Argyle finally penetrated the white shirts 10 minutes after the restart but further scores by replacement hooker Phil Nilsen and a second for Holmes after a sumptuous kick to the corner by Leonard ended the contest.
Former Carnegie flyer Lee Blackett emptied the Rotherham bench and they swung the pendulum back their way with tries for Mitchell and Willie Ryan and seven points from former Wharfedale fly-half Tom Barrett.
“That’s the best performance of the three by far,” said McGee.
“I asked for a full-blooded commitment from the guys to show to people that we care about what we do and we saw that in bucketloads.”
Rotherham Titans: Scanlon, Keating, Gill, Davies, Wilson (Dowsett 68), MacKinney (Barrett 58), Mitchell; Gadd (Hislop 44), Preece (Matthews 68), Tampin (Thiede 54), Parker (Thomas 62), Maddison, Argyle (Ryan 54), Birch, Rieder.
Yorkshire Carnegie: Georgiou, McIlwaine (Peters 58), Goss, Lucock, Holmes, Leonard, Pilgrim (Dudman 68), Beech (Harris 55), Graham (Nilsen 11), Imiolek (Hill 62), Hannay (Casson 62), Smith, Walker (Ramshaw 79), Bainbridge, Burrows.
Referee: D Procter (RFU).
OTLEY made the perfect response to conceding 40 points the previous week, enjoying a seven-try romp as they slammed Sedgley Park 39-10.
The sides were lying sixth and seventh in the National Two North table but the gap looked much wider as Otley stamped their authority on the game early on, full-back Arnie Elliott twice slicing open the defence to touch down.
Hooker Ben Steele and scrum-half Stephen Depledge also went over with Depledge adding a conversion to give them a 22-10 half-time lead.
Otley increased the tempo in the second half, making good use of their pace. Flanker Matthew Heaton, winger Alex Beaumont and centre Jack Mackie added to the try tally and Depledge landed another conversion, all without reply from the stunned visitors.
Harrogate captain Sam Bottomley celebrated his 150th game for the club as league rivals Luctonians succumbed to the Yorkshiremen 34-29.
It was nip and tuck all the way with Luctonians belying their current lowly league position.
Morley finished off 2014 with a 20-20 draw against fellow National Three North strugglers Westoe but it will have felt more like two points lost than two gained.
Playing up the slope in the first half Morley took a 12-3 lead courtesy of tries from Andy Funnell and Bradley Marshall.
The home side responded with two tries before the break to lead 15-12 but Morley again got on top with fullback Dante van der Merwe scoring a try and penalty.
But instead of kicking on, the Maroons had a poor final quarter. Westoe grabbed the equalising try and were hunting the winner when the final whistle brought Morley relief.
Visitors Sheffield Tigers, meanwhile, gave hosts Sandal a good run for their money before eventually losing out 23-17.
Sandal’s forward’s provided the foundations for the Wakefield-based side’s success.
Try scorers for the Milnthorpe Green men were Joe Bedford and James Briscoe (2) with Mark Pease kicking two penalties and a conversion.
Wharfedale’s National League One home fixture with Esher on Saturday was postponed.