AS they reach the Championship campaign’s halfway stage, head coach Bryan Redpath remains adamant Yorkshire Carnegie are good enough to win promotion.
On paper, at least, you can see why; ahead of tonight’s visit from Bedford Blues, they have won 10 of their 11 league games so far and sit handily in second place.
However, their one defeat was at London Irish and the manner of that 41-17 loss suggested their unbeaten title rivals – who have retained a Premiership squad since suffering relegation in May – will be too strong for anyone come play-offs time.
Redpath admitted they were “the better team” in that match last month and, given his own side have switched off at various times this term, almost coming unstuck at part-time, bottom-placed Richmond last Friday, it is easy to understand why Irish are such favourites.
However, the former Scotland scrum-half does not believe they will be unbeatable when it comes to the business end of the season – if his Carnegie squad start improving now.
“Even before we played Irish, I spoke to the players in the hotel that night and there was 17 of the 24 who travelled who had played in the Premiership,” he said.
“Yes, primarily, the (Irish) have their whole squad that has been in there. Now, we have to believe we can compete if we take on the little things we need to take on.
“Every player taking on one or two things, cutting out one error, sticking with it, being more consistent in that arm-wrestle and that’s the difference.”
Carnegie beat Bedford Blues 52-28 in a British & Irish Cup game at Selby RUFC in October and tonight’s opponents have lost seven of their 10 Championship fixtures so far. However, Redpath insisted: “They’ve got some talented players and if you switch off against them they make it hard for you.
“We were 21-9 up at their place last season and lost 22-21; they are dangerous and whatever happened in the B&I Cup, that’s not something we’ve paid attention to.”
Scrum-half Alex Davies returns to lead the side, captain Ryan Burrows dropping to the bench with illness, while Richard Beck and Pete Lucock each make their 100th club appearance.