An impressive and powerful performance by Yorkshire Carnegie’s forwards set up a convincing win over county rivals Rotherham Titans at Clifton Lane.
By winning yesterday’s derby, Bryan Redpath’s team confirmed that, with such a strong pack, they should be able to finish in the top four and contest the play-offs.
As far as Rotherham are concerned, they require much improvement if they are not to suffer another league defeat at Cornish Pirates on Sunday. One area that needs attention is the line out where the hosts gave away too much ball on their throw-in.
On this evidence and judging by the success last weekend against Jersey, Carnegie will be heavily reliant on their big pack to make progress in the Championship during this campaign which is so important for the credibility of the new controlling group at Headingley.
One player who has distinguished himself in the two opening matches is flanker Chris Walker who added a try in the derby to the two he scored against Jersey.
Walker’s try – Carnegie’s first in a rather dull contest between two ambitious sides – typified the supremacy at the line out which the visitors established.
Rotherham, though, have only themselves to blame because both the tries they conceded were the result of penalties and the force of the opposition pack that drove successfully to the line on 22 and 70 minutes.
Walker’s score set Carnegie on their way to a deserved win and their victory was confirmed in the second half by a second try, this time from replacement prop Charlie Beech who, like Walker, crashed over from a driving maul.
Rotherham’s commitment could not be faulted, and the exciting manner in which they scored their only try hinted at more promising displays to come during the first season of new coach, former Wales international Mark Jones.
While the Titans had failed to take a try-scoring opportunity near Carnegie’s line early in the first half and had to thank fly-half Tom Barrett for a well-taken drop goal and penalty, Rotherham – at last – showed some attacking penetration late on.
Flanker Max Argyle, aggressive throughout, broke dangerously to create havoc in Carnegie territory and his burst was intelligently supported; so much so that replacement forward and new signing George Oram was up with the play to add his bulk to score his first try for his new club.
Rotherham had cut the deficit to nine points and there was still time to claim a losing bonus point at least, but the later stages of an encounter that was devoid of much fizz were dominated by the Carnegie forwards ,who kept play in Rotherham’s area.
After losing twice in the Championship to Rotherham last season, try-scorer Walker was thrilled with the outcome:
“Credit has to go to our forwards,” he said. “I just managed to get at the back of a good drive. We have made a positive start to the season, but we still have to improve.
“We put in a disciplined performance compared to last week but we need to work on our rucking. This was as usual a tough derby because there is so much history between the clubs. At the start of the season we said we must do well in the opening nine games, so we’ve made a good start.”
Titans’ coach Jones was not too downhearted at the result or the performance:
“The build-up to Oram’s try encapsulated what we’ve been trying to do since I came here,” he said. “The line-break was good and we showed composure.
“Our tackling needs to be much more aggressive and we must show better decision-making when we have overlaps which we created against Carnegie.
“Our pack fronted up well but we must learn to execute our chances when we are under pressure to do so.”
Rotherham Titans: Scanlon, Keating, Hayes, Barker, Wilson, Barrett(Goodwin 64), Carter, Williams(Cromie 62), Preece(C.Maddison 44), Tampin(Thiede 53), Holmes, B.Maddison(Oram 73), Argyle, Calladine (Birch 64), Cree.
Yorkshire Carnegie: Georgiou,Holmes, Forsyth, Lucock(Fitzpatrick 50), Doherty, Pilgrim,Imiolek(Tideswell 50), J.Walker(Nilsen 50),O’Donnell(Beech 50), Ryder(Schofield 69), Jones, C.Walker(Saul 60).Burrows.
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth.