The first time Leeds Carnegie were on Sky Sports this season was the unforgettable demolition at the hands of the Cornish Pirates. The 52-10 defeat came in week 4 of the Championship. However the squad has undoubtedly developed and matured over the course of the season. The 2nd section of the campaign started brightly as the squad gained a share of the spoils on the return visit to the deep south west.......
This week came a bitter Yorkshire derby with Rotherham Titans. The Clifton Lane side had made us look distinctly ordinary at their home ground before we managed to avenge the defeat with a narrow win in the return fixture at Headingley Carnegie.This week the Titans returned to LS6 looking to upset the applecart after conceding three tries in the last seven minutes against Bedford Blues to suffer a heavy opening day play-off defeat.
Leeds started on the front foot and had some bright spells of possession early on. It was hoped that Joe Ford would have received a confidence boost last week from a fine kicking display in Penzance and that this would be effectively transferred to the Yorkshire turf. Sadly this did not prove to be the case and his severe lack of confidence was evident from minute one where he attempted a drop-goal from just outside the 22 metre line, when running the ball might have been a better option.
After a positive opening salvo, the Leeds ill-discipline set in again. A succession of avoidable penalties was beginning to cost Leeds as before they knew it the Titans surged into a comfortable 9-0 lead from the boot of Garry Law. Prior to the interval the south Yorkshire side crossed the white wash for the games solitary try. After a dominant scrum, Back rower Robin Copeland charged down the short side to outmuscle an attempted tackle from Halani Aulika to dive over in the corner and put the Titans well into the ascendancy. Despite the missed conversion from Law, Carnegie foundthemselves with a 14-0 deficit and a mountain to climb in the second half.
With some harsh words from Diccon Edwards still echoing in their ears, the Carnegie side came out fired up and looking to turn the game around. Time and time again they were undone by their own mistakes and a needless penalty was given away by 2nd row Dan Hemingway who appeared to tackle a man without the ball. Tommy Bell finally got Leeds off the mark shortly after the hour mark, and faint hopes of a revival began to surface. However these were quickly halted with a 4th successful kick at goal from Law restoring the 17 point advantage.
With ten minutes remaining on the clock Stevie McColl, a full-back operating on the wing in the absence of the experienced Michael Stephenson, thought that he had dragged Leeds back into the game with their opening try. But the joy was short lived after inconclusive evidence from the video referee gave match officials little choice but to rule that the grounding of the ball was unsuccessful and that McColl was held up over the line.
Leeds continued to push forward but ultimately came up short and a series of unforced errors, including a total of three missed kicks to touch off penalties from their lacklustre fly-half, condemned the home side to a humiliating 20-3 derby day defeat.
After the game, coach Diccon Edwards and captain Andy Titterrell spoke in no uncertain terms about the need to quickly forget about this set-back and win the remaining four pool games in a row to make certain of a place in the semi-finals. If the promotion push is to gain any momentum whatsoever it is important to lift the sprits within the camp as soon as possible and ensure that our pivotal number 10 is playing with a smile on his face come the visit of Bedford Blues this weekend.
Wasn't deliberately trying to be harsh to towards Joe. However I do feel that when he plays well, so do the whole team as in Cornwall last week. I simply feel that 10 is such a pivotal position and if we are to get promoted much depends on him.
Id like to see another 10 brought in next season who can help to boost Joe's confidence. At this stage I feel it has to be a seasoned high level Championship performer who could make the step up should the unthinkable happen.
4 wins from 4 is a big ask but I think we often play better with our backs against the wall. The pressure to perform may give us an advantage. I look forward to seeing it unfold.
You are spot on there Mark. We are suffering a disadvantage that does not apply to all teams in play-offs in that we have the additional burden of playing local derbies on top of usual pressure being faced.
A lot of credit must go to the Titans.They constantly disrupted our play, their delaying tactics in the scrum and line outs were well thought out and they played the ref extremely well. If Leeds are to progress, then they need to become more thick skinned and street wise. We on the other hand at times lokked like rabbits caught in a cars headlights.
What we forget is that the vast bulk of our team is made up of lads who, until last season were used to playing their rugby in front of crowds of a few dozen. It cannot be underestimated what a step up it must be to find yourself taken from that environment and find a television camera thrust into your face while you are getting changed and knowing that a great number of people are watching your every move.It cannot be a coincidence that our worst performances this season have been when Sky is there. I hope that the lads can learn to ignore the cameras and just play their rugby.
Cheers Top Tyke another great write up on a miserable day for the Hoops, on the plus side my little lad was overjoyed at being on the telly quite a few times along with a very pretty blond girl who seemed to be a magnate for the camera man filming the Paddock screamers!
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