YORKSHIRE CARNEGIE’s director of rugby Chris Stirlinwas delighted at seeing his side reach the knock-out stages of the Championship Cup – but believes there is so much more to come from his team.
Carnegie ran in three tries at Ladybay – including one for debutant Elijah Niko – although Stirling admitted afterwards it could and should have been a far more comfortable margin of victory.
“It was a hard-earned win, but it was nice to get points on the board and qualify for the next stage of the competition,” said Stirling.
“We were way off the mark from where we want to be, but I suppose you can look at it from a positive which I will and the team will.
“That is that we left a lot of points out there and could have easily run in another 40 points.
“It is frustrating that we created so many chances and didn’t take them, but we must turn that frustration into excitement.
“If we hadn’t have created anything then I’d be worried. When you’re creating things, but not finishing them, that is an easy thing to fix.
“That is the exciting thing - when we put it together in a match, we’re not that far off it.”
The victory had to be earned the hard way however, after Nottingham – who needed to win both remaining pool games to stand a chance of progressing themselves – took an early lead through Luke Peters, with Shane O’Leary stepping up to slot home the conversion.
Carnegie then settled into their groove soon after and got off the mark when Jacob Umaga kicked a sixth-minute penalty.
If we hadn’t have created anything then I’d be worried. When you’re creating things, but not finishing them, that is an easy thing to fix.Carnegie director of rugby, Chris Stirling
The visitors then got in front when skipper Pete Lucock was the beneficiary of a superbly-floated pass by Jade Te Rure to go over the line, allowing Umaga to slot home the conversion for a 10-7 lead.
But Nottingham proved determined hosts and worked a smart move off a line-out to put Jordan Coghlan in space, the No 8 powering through the gap before stepping past Umaga to go over between the posts in the 24th minute, O’Leary addeing the conversion.
Carnegie, however, were proving no pushovers themselves and took control of the game through the endeavours of their forward pack.
Chris Elder went close from a cross-field kick on an advantage play, but when the subsequent penalty was kicked to touch, the maul rumbled forward from where hooker Joe Buckle touched down.
With two minutes remaining in the first half, Carnegie collected their third try of the game through winger Elijah Niko.
Carnegie’s forward pack won the ball back on Nottingham’s put-in, with JB Bruzulier spotting the gap on the blindside to put the winger over. Umaga added the conversion from the touchline to give his side a deserved 24-14 lead.
Nottingham refused to lie down, however, and got back to within one score before the break when O’Leary kicked a penalty from 25 metres out.
After the break, Umaga made up for missing out on scoring a try after play had been called back by slotting over the subsequent penalty to make it 27-17.
Carnegie had to stay strong in defence as the pressure from Nottingham only intensified, the hosts eventually turning their dominance into points through Callum Sirker’s effort with 20 minutes remaining, cutting the lead to five points with just over20 minutes remaining.
But O’Leary missed the subsequent conversion, as well as a decent penalty attempt with 11 minutes left, the visitors holding on for a deserved win.