PROLIFIC flanker Josh Bainbridge scored his second hat-trick of the season as Yorkshire Carnegie put their biggest-ever score on derby rivals Rotherham Titans.
The No7, who grabbed five in defeat at Bristol earlier this campaign, got three of his four tries yesterday before half-time and in identical circumstances.
Bainbridge, who attended Prince Henry’s School in Otley, benefited each time from his side’s potent line-out drives as the hosts secured a third successive win and retained third spot in the Championship.
Woeful Rotherham have now lost five consecutive matches and seem destined to miss out on the top-four but, comparatively, Bryan Redpath’s side are in much better nick.
Granted, they went behind to an early James McKinney penalty yesterday but their line was rarely troubled and the visitors were only really in touch 24-9 at the break due to the fly-half’s further two kicks.
Even then the last of those did not come until first-half injury-time when, ironically, Bainbridge was yellow-carded.
Carnegie dealt well with being down to 14 men, defending admirably, and they did not concede during that 10-minute spell although they were aided by some dire Rotherham handling. Shortly after Bainbridge’s return, the struggling visitors were penalised at a scrum on their own ball 10m from their own line.
Another kick to the corner saw the flanker duly secure his fourth try of the afternoon – he now has 15 in just 11 games this term – and, though Kevin Sinfield missed the conversion, there was never any doubt from that point who was going to win.
Rotherham replacement Ali Birch was yellow-carded shortly after coming on for a deliberate knock-on and, unlike the visitors, Carnegie capitalised with prop Ben Hooper picking up from a ruck and nudging over for Sinfield to improve again in the 74th minute.
Then, with just seconds of normal time remaining and Rotherham having some rare pressure, centre Andy Forsyth intercepted to race 90m for Sinfield to convert once more.
Fresh from his BBC Sports Personality of the Year runners-up award, fly-half Sinfield directed affairs well for Carnegie, his tactical kicking being particularly efficient although he did also get charged down three times.
The ex-Leeds Rhinos captain missed just one of his seven attempts at goal to keep Carnegie ticking over.
They head to joint-bottom Ealing Trailfinders on Saturday, the club who secured a surprise 28-22 win at London Scottish two days ago.
Meanwhile, hooker Phil Nilsen, who made his 174th appearance for Carnegie yesterday, has become only the second player in its history to be granted a testimonial.
The 30-year-old is the longest-serving player at Carnegie having emerged from their academy to debut in 2006 and is now fourth in the all-time appearance list behind Mike Shelley, Rob Rawlinson and Tom Palmer.
Yorkshire Carnegie: Holmes; Prell, Lucock (Forsyth 66), Leonard, Doherty; Sinfield, Pilgrim (Hodgson 71); Beech (Imiolek 40), Nilsen (Poole 76), O’Donnell (Hooper 66), Myerscough , Jones, Beck (Saul 71), Bainbridge, Burrows.
Rotherham Titans: Scanlon; Keating (Jones 66), L Hayes, Barker, J Hayes; McKinney (Keating 74), Davies (Carter 40); Hislop (Crobie 57), C Maddison (Tampin 56), Thiede (Preece 56), Salmon, B Maddison, Argyle, Caladine (Birch 66), Cree (Oram 63).
Referee: Greg MacDonald.