TWO WINS from three games in the Championship Cup suggests Yorkshire Carnegie are beginning to find their feet and boss Chris Stirling felt they played some of their best rugby of the season in the 33-20 conquering of Doncaster Knights.
Former England coach Stuart Lancaster was among the crowd at Hull Ionians’ Brantingham Park and would have been impressed with the way Carnegie took a 26-3 stranglehold on the game in the first half.
There was little sign of Doncaster getting back into the contest until Carnegie received the first of two yellow cards with 16 minutes left, but they ran in three tries after that to leave Yorkshire grateful for Jacob Umaga’s faultless goal kicking in the opening period.
Reflecting on the tie – marred by 33 penalties, 17 of them to Carnegie – Stirling said: “The first half was probably some of the best rugby we’ve played this year.
“That was pleasing. I thought our composure was good, they tried to get under our skins, but we answered back by dominating at set-piece and kicking our goals to get our noses in front and then scored a good try off the back of some good high defence on the edge. I thought we were quite clinical in the first 40.”
The lead was extended by another seven points, to ensure Carnegie’s third win of the year, before Dan Temm was sin-binned for persistent infringements. Knights scored their first try immediately after that, added another against 13 men following Will Britton’s yellow card for a shoulder charge and completed the scoring in the final moments, with Carnegie back to 14.
“We’d also had a number of changes, we lost a couple of crucial guys, especially in the backs,” Stirling added. “Fair play to the young guys who came on. We had Olly Fox playing on the wing and I don’t think he has ever played on the wing in his life.
“We had young Ryan [Hamilton] on the wing with Harry Davey back to full-back so we had three young guys in the back three and that created some challenges for us. With the sin-bins, the tackle law is what it is – we’ve just got to get better at it.”
Umaga, on loan from Wasps, booted four penalties in the first half and converted tries by Temm – who galloped through after Doncaster turned the ball over near their line – and Davey, off an interception of Paul Jarvis’ pass.
Jarvis had a touchdown ruled out and Knights’ only first half points came through a Dougie Flockhart penalty. Chris Elder scored Carnegie’s third try, converted by Jade Te Rure after Umaga had suffered a thigh injury, to make it 33-3, then Ben Hunter touched down either side of a Curtis Wilson try, for Doncaster, Flockhart converting the first of those.
Stirling admitted: “It has given us a bit of confidence. We’ve got a lot of work to do, especially in our set-piece and contesting opposition line-outs.”
Yorkshire Carnegie: Umaga (Fox 45), Davey, Forsyth, Lucock, Elder, Te Rure (Hamilton 68), Bruzulier, Thomas (Hill 54), Buckle (Donnellan 57), Foster (Nixon 60), Lemalu, Smith (Britton 57), Romaine, Temm, Kiri Kiri.
Doncaster Knights: Jarvis, Wilson, Hayes, Clark, Flockhart, Cowell, James (Pocklington 68), Williams, Malcolm (Hunter 56), Talaese (Sproston ht), Challinor, Eames, Ryan (Jones 54, Adams 68), Booth (Hills 60), Pitman.
Referee: Simon Harding.