Prolific Yorkshire Carnegie star Chris Elder hopes to continue his career-best form admitting James Lowes’ footballing beliefs have brought the best out of him.
The ex-London Welsh full-back has scored 15 tries in just 14 games this term crossing eight times in the last five fixtures alone.
Elder bagged an impressive brace in Saturday’s British & Irish Cup win over Jersey Reds at Scarborough and he ventures back into Championship action when Hartpury RFC visit Headingley tomorrow.
“The style of rugby we’ve been playing definitely helps,” he explained.
“Jimmy likes us to try play open, exciting rugby and that gives us the opportunity for tries, especially out wide for us outside backs.
“I’ve been lucky enough to get on the back of some of those moves and it’s definitely my best run yet.
“I’ve no idea what my best tally is for a season – I remember having a good year in National One once – but this is certainly my best form at Championship level.”
Third-placed Carnegie have lost just once in their last eight outings and are looking to keep in touch with the Championship hierarchy tomorrow.
However, they know first-hand that Hartpury – in their first season in the second-tier after promotion from National One – are dangerous despite being down in 11th spot.
Wasps academy graduate Elder said: “They started outstandingly well. I don’t think anyone was expecting a huge amount from them but they did open up really strongly with a couple of wins and close defeats.
“They showed that against us. We underestimated them a little bit, they played well and we ended up in a hard-fought draw (29-29 in September).
“We have to knuckle down and focus on our processes as we realise now they are a team that can really fight us and pull out a good performance.”
Meanwhile, Carnegie must wait and see if they have qualified for the B&I Cup quarter-finals.
That 26-19 win against Jersey saw them move into the eighth qualifying spot as a best pool runner-up but they could yet be displaced.
Ironically, though, Hartpury could do them a favour.
Their game at Cornish Pirates was postponed on Saturday due to a water-logged pitch.
When it is rearranged, if Cornish gain a bonus point win at home they will progress at the expense of Carnegie and travel to Ealing Trailfinders for the quarter-final but any other result sees Lowes’ side safe.
Elder, 25, said: “It’s one of those things. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens with Hartpury’s match at Cornish.
“We’ve put ourselves in a good position with that win last Saturday and now we can’t do any more. It was more important we put a good performance in to build into this week and we did do that.
“We’ve put our foundations in place now to go on and prepare for Hartpury ourselves.”
Carnegie make eight changes to the side that defeated Jersey Reds last week at Scarborough.
Three of the new faces come in the backline with George Watkins returning on the wing, Andy Forsyth at centre and Alex Davies starting at scrum-half.
In the forwards, Charlie Beech has been ruled out through illness, so James Thraves starts at tighthead prop with Marc Thomas in at loosehead. Hooker Harry Newborn makes his first start in the Championship after four starts in the Cup this season.
Jack Whetton comes in for Matt Smith in the second row and Ben West replaces Josh Bainbridge in the back row, with Smith and Bainbridge both amongst the replacements. Richard Beck comes in for Ollie Stedman at No8.
On the bench, new loan signing Kevin Bryce is included as is fellow prop Charlie Capps, who returns after missing out through injury last week.
Hooker Jordon Poole could make his first appearance in the Championship this season after being named on the bench.