STUNNED Yorkshire Carnegie produced an awful performance as they conceded six tries to visiting Cornish Pirates and lost in the Championship for only the second time this season.
Bryan Redpath’s promotion-chasing side gifted their opponents two intercept tries in the first half and, therefore, should really have gone in ahead rather than 21-17 down.
However, they were then thoroughly out-played in the second period as inspired Cornish battled their way to a sixth successive win, making the most of some alarming defensive deficiencies with clinical finishing.
It was second-placed Carnegie’s first home loss of the season and first league defeat since falling at leader London Irish in November but few could argue it has not been coming.
Too often they have failed to be ruthless this term only to scrape by but, this time, there was no escape from those customary slack periods.
They head to Jersey on Friday before Irish arrive at Headingley the following Sunday; Carnegie will have to improve vastly if they are going to have any chance of ending the Exiles’ 100 per cent record.
Bizarrely, Cornish did not even have any phases in the hosts’ 22 until as late as the 35th minute when No8 Tom Duncan duly scored, slipping through untouched as Carnegie’s ruck defence went missing.
However, they had already been gifted those two earlier tries courtesy of a couple of hopeless intercept passes.
Full-back Chris Elder, who endured a miserable afternoon, threw the first after just five minutes, Cornish winger Kyle Moyle picking off a wretched pass to cruise in from near halfway.
Laurence May converted - he had already missed a simple penalty after Elder had been turned over - and did so again when Duncan snaffled Joe Ford’s wayward pass to trundle in from 45m out in the 22nd minute.
It was frustrating for Carnegie who, amid all this mayhem, played some great football, back-rows Ollie Stedman and Ryan Burrows causing havoc with their carries and offloads.
Alex Davies struck a 14th minute penalty and then converted as Phil Nilsen benefitted from a line-out drive in the 24th minute.
However, they did not score again until first half injury-time.
They produced a fine counter-attack, Stedman and Burrows once more doing the damage in the middle to create space for Jonah Holmes to escape from deep but the winger could not regather his chip and chase.
They did earn a penalty, though, and from that Nilsen scored his second from the same drive tactic.
When Ford slotted a drop goal to see them trail just 21-20 in the 42nd minute, everyone expected them to push on and gain a 13th league win from 14 games.
Yet they fell off the pace - and tackles - once more as scrum-half Alex Day darted past Charlie Beech to secure Cornish’s fourth try and bonus point in the 50th minute.
Next, they rolled over from a maul close in for Brett Beukeboom to score and, then, with the best try of the game in the 65th minute, fly-half Laurence May broke through and produced a lovely flick pass for supporting prop Marlen Walker to feed replacement front-row Jack Andrew, May converting.
Carnegie, meanwhile, managed a third try with the last play of the game having finally tested Cornish again, Stedman scoring for McColl to convert, but it still wasn’t enough to muster even a bonus point.
Yorkshire Carnegie: Elder (McColl 58); Holmes, Lucock, Seals, Prell; Ford, Davies (Green 58); Beech (Boyce 58), Nilsen (M Mayhew 58), Faletau (Thraves 55), D Schofield (Smith 55), West (Myerscough 73), Stedman, R Mayhew, Burrows.
Cornish Pirates: T May; O’Meara, Hendrickson, de Battista (Bodilly 45), Moyle; L May (Cargill 73), Day (Pope 64); Walker, Channon (Innard 55), P Andrew (J Andrew 45), Morgan, Beukeboom, Lee (Caulfield 66), Cheeseman (Parker 32), Duncan.
Referee: Matthew O’Grady