RELIEVED COACH James Lowes hailed Yorkshire Carnegie’s positive attitude after they returned to winning ways against London Scottish in the British & Irish Cup.
Carnegie trailed 3-0 at the break and were 8-7 behind deep into the final quarter, but two late tries – the clincher coming from academy scrum-half Sam Wolstenholme on his debut – sealed a deserved 19-8 victory at Ilkley’s Stacks Field.
It was a morale-boosting win for Carnegie after successive defeats at Richmond and Jersey and Lowes was pleased with his team’s response to what he admitted has been a “tough couple of weeks”.
He said: “We have had some decent meetings and worked on some things and today I asked the boys not to worry about the scoreboard as such.
“It is always nice to win, but I just asked them to get back to playing well.
“What I was pleased about was how we reacted when we dropped the ball or conceded a penalty.
“Our mentality was strong. Now we need to bottle that and keep it going forward.
“It [the Championship] is a tough league and we’ve had a tough couple of weeks so to come out of that with a win is really pleasing.”
Carnegie, fielding a more experienced side than the one beaten at Jersey in their British & Irish Cup opener, played the better rugby throughout, but trailed 3-0 at the break to Basil Strang’s long-range penalty in the 36th minute.
It was 22 minutes before either team created a meaningful attack, Carnegie captain Pete Lucock – playing out of position at fly-half – being pulled back when Tom Casson’s pass was ruled forward.
Soon afterwards Will Homer’s pass picked out Josh Bainbridge close to the Scottish line, but Dino Waldren knocked the ball out.
Carnegie made a bright start to the second half and went in front just two minutes after the resumption when Homer sliced through the defence following a lineout and Stevie McColl added the extras.
Strange missed with another long-range penalty, the ball holding up in the wind, but Carnegie failed to clear their line allowing Scottish to mount their only spell of pressure.
It eventually paid off when Ben Mosses slipped over for an unconverted try from close-range after Derrick Appiah and Chris Walker had both been pulled down just short.
Carnegie could have caved in, but rallied to dominate the final quarter.
Andy Forsyth, who came off the bench when Tom Bullough was injured after just six minutes, had a touchdown ruled out because of a forward pass before Joe Buckle crossed from Bainbridge’s pass following another lineout close to Scottish’s line with 12 minutes left.
Carnegie had looked dangerous on the few occasions they moved the ball wide, but let themselves down with some poor ball control for much of the game.
After Buckle’s try they grew in confidence and the passes began to stick.
Two minutes from time, Wolstenholme, who had come on to replace Homer, backed up to score Yorkshire’s third try after McColl’s chip and chase and some nice handling by George Watkins and Forsyth.
McColl’s second conversion completed the scoring and Lowes reckons Carnegie will go into Sunday’s visit of Bedford in the Championship in confident mood.
“The Richmond game was very tough for us to accept,” he said of Carnegie’s 31-20 loss in their most recent league match.
“The situation caused a lot of that – losing nine, 10 and 12 very early in the game doesn’t help, but I said to them ‘don’t use that as an excuse for getting beaten’.
“Today they just fought so hard for everything. We both had reasonable sides out, but I don’t think they made a line-break on us.
“They scored a try and our reaction to that was really positive.
“We worked so hard on the back of that and then tries we scored late on was a result of all that hard work.
“We have got to stop looking for reasons to lose games, we’ve got to find reasons to win games.
“I am pleased they found a way to do that today.”
Sara Cox made history by becoming the first female referee to take charge of a Carnegie fixture.
Yorkshire Carnegie: McColl, Watkins, Bullough, Casson, Brown, Lucock, Homer, Thomas, Buckle, Beech, West, Smith, Wilson, Bainbridge, Beck. Replacements Newborn, Imiolek, Thraves, Whetton, Ward, Wolstenholme, Forsyth.
London Scottish: Holland, Coombes, Ingall, Mosses, Stevenson, Strang, Barton, Appiah, Austin, Waldren, Mills, Gillanders, Walker, Marley, Berry. Replacements: George, Harris, Cringle, McGeekie, Atkinson, Hoadley, Sharp.
Referee: Sara Cox (Exeter).