DURING A game involving two Chris Walkers, each wearing the No7 jersey, it was Yorkshire Carnegie’s version who crucially came out on top to help his side return to winning ways.
In a bizarre quirk, both players with the same name lined up directly against each other at openside but it was relieved Carnegie who ended a three-match losing run by defeating London Scottish in this British & Irish Cup contest.
After losing successive games in the Championship, head coach Bryan Redpath opted against resting any of his big names and instead named a strong side in readiness to try and halt the slide.His tactic paid dividends; Walker scored two tries from their principal weapon – the line-out drive – in the first half to set up a 20-7 interval lead and by the time he completed his hat-trick in the 50th minute, the game was as good as over.
It was a great afternoon for Scarborough RUFC as they did wonders to defy all the recent rain and stage one of Carnegie’s ‘On The Road’ games while it proved a good day’s work, too, for Kevin Sinfield.
He started at fly-half at Silver Royd as he began a week that he hopes will end with silver of a different kind – in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards.
The former Leeds Rhinos captain is currently 7/1 to win that trophy as the campaign to see the rugby league legend rewarded for his career in the game gathers pace.
And, fittingly, Sinfield yesterday, in only his fifth match so far, undoubtedly enjoyed his best performance yet since switching codes.
His decision-making was spot on, choosing when and when not to kick wisely, while his overall control of affairs was impressive.
However, having judiciously helped steer his side through a tricky first period – Scottish’s own Walker scored in the 28th minute to make it just 10-7 and the visitors found initial joy disrupting Carnegie’s scrum and line-out – Sinfield delivered two moments of brilliance to show he is more than just a steady hand in his new sport.
First, the former England captain directed a pinpoint crossfield kick right into the onrushing David Doherty, the Carnegie winger who did not need to break stride before collecting and diving over for his side’s bonus-point try point.
Then, Sinfield produced a fired cut-out pass in the shadow of the Scottish posts that left the visitors grabbing thin air, ushering Josh Bainbridge over for his first try in the 62nd minute.
Sinfield slotted the kick and was replaced, safe in the knowledge he is certainly getting to grips with union.
In between, Taylor Prell, the 19-year-old who excelled at full-back, scored a deserved try of his own following some slick hands as Carnegie – after three narrow defeats in a row – turned the screw.
Sinfield kicked 20 points along the way to help his side eke out the much-needed victory and could easily have kicked more but instead, rightly, turned to that potent line-out option.
Redpath’s side had been found out somewhat in that department during their recent losing run, opponents learning how to negate the tactic, but Scottish had no answer to it yesterday with the Yorkshire club clearly having worked on some fine-tuning.
Bainbridge, who replaced Walker not long after the forward completed that treble, added another line-out score late on to ram home the point.
Rob O’Donnell, at tighthead prop, was another top performer, and Carnegie will look for the same performance when they play the same opponents in the B&I Cup away on Saturday.
Yorkshire Carnegie: Prell; Doherty, Wright, Leonard, Holmes; Sinfield (Hodgson 63), Pilgrim; Imiolek (Hooper 52), Nilsen (J Walker 65), O’Donnell (Beech 52), Schofield, Smith (Barnard 66), Jones, C Walker (Bainbridge 52), Burrows.
London Scottish: Morris; Earle (Millar 74), Locke, Harries, Packman (Hughes 26); Newton, Heeks (Calder 61); Cosgrove (Cherry 55), Moran (Hallam 55), Litchfield, Carrick-Smith, Bartle, Brown, C Walker, Bright.
Referee: A Jackson (RFU).