THE YORKSHIRE Carnegie renaissance is gathering pace.
Chris Stirling’s side won a sixth consecutive game and, more importantly, a second succesive victory in the Championship, as they continued to pull away from bottom.
This was the most impressive of any of those wins, however, given it came against a Cornish Pirates side who sat third in the table.
It should have been more comfortable, too; the usually reliable Jacob Umaga missed two penalty attempts and Carnegie ended up with 13 men at the end following a couple of yellow cards.
With ex-England boss Stuart Lancaster watching on from the South Stand terrace, they started the more positive of the two sides and quickly got the first try when prop Marc Thomas got over via a smart line-out drive in the eighth minute.
Cornish fly-half Will Cargill had been penalised for not releasing to concede the penalty that led to the kick to the corner. In the process, he also went off with a bleeding mouth and was unable to return, perhaps contributing to his side’s early issues.
Carnegie did ask plenty of questions, one quality midfield move threatening winger Chris Elder to get clear, while their kicking in a difficult wind caused chaos for Pirates full-back Kyle Moyle who twice spilled.
The conditions also saw Cornish suffer in the line-out initially, their first being blown back to the Carnegie side, but the home side also applied plenty of pressure of their own in defence.
Centre Pete Lucock put one huge hit on Rory Parata, the luckless Cornish centre who was also rattled by Elijah Niko, the giant New Zealander winger who forced one of a raft of first-half turnovers with his thumping tackle.
Niko, making his first Championship appearance since arriving from French club Beziers, scored his third try in as many games in the 28th minute.
However, it was Dan Temm who proved the architect, the in-form No8 making the break from deep before timing his pass to perfection. Umaga failed with his second conversion attempt and, in fairness, the visitors hit back strongly having fallen 12-0 behind.
They began to control the ball better and worked their way into the game although their response was slightly fortunate.
Carnegie had actually defended a line-out close to their own line and turned the ball over – only to spill with their first drive out.
Cornish hooker Sam Matavesi picked up and had a simple 10m surge to the line as the hosts failed to quickly realign.
Javie Rojas Alvarez, Cargill’s replacement who had also missed one earlier penalty attempt, improved and added a penalty on the stroke of half-time to leave them trailing just 12-10.
Still, Umaga slotted his first penalty early in the second period and he put them further ahead as his side’s scrum got on top.
Twice they forced penalties on Cornish ball. The first time Umaga was off target but not second time around.
With former ACT Brumbies loosehead Nic Mayhew coming on for his debut, there was no let-up for Cornish who simply could not deal with the pressure although full-back Umaga was off-target again with another 40m effort.
The fourth time Pirates’ scrum wilted, tighthead Tyler Gendall was sin-binned in the 71st minute – only for Carnegie’s Josh Bainbridge to be yellow-carded after a melee ensued after the resulting line-out.
Then, as the visitors broke downfield, Andy Forsyth deliberately knocked on – it saved an almost certain try as well – and he was sin-binned, too.
Alvarez converted but his side’s last push came to nothing.
Yorkshire Carnegie: Umaga; Elder, Forsyth, Lucock, Niko; Te Rure, Bruzulier; Thomas (N Mayhew 62), Buckle (Donnellan 78), Mitchell (Foster 54), Romaine (Lemalu 40), Smith, R Mayhew, Bainbridge, Temm.
Cornish Pirates: Moyle; O’Meara, Parata, Patterson, Cant (Evans 70); Cargill, Day (Ashby 70); Walker (Andrew 61), Matavesi, Gendall, Freeman, Beukeboom, Caulfield (Lee 54), Stevens (Walker 74), Duncan (Bolwell 54).
Referee: Matthew O’Grady (RFU)