Leeds Carnegie 29 Jersey 11: Positive response sees Leeds burst out of blocks

Leeds Carnegie head coach James Lowes praised his side’s positive attitude as they returned to winning ways in the RFU Championship with this victory over Jersey at Headingley.

Pete Lucock passes the ball under pressure

Having been beaten by London Scottish nine days ago, Carnegie ran in three tries through David Doherty, Jacob Rowan and Josh Griffin to see off a spirited challenge from the Channel Islanders.

Lowes said: “I thought we were good, and we showed a good positive attitude right from the warm up that wasn’t there last week against London Scottish.

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“I thought that showed especially in the first half, they only got in our half a couple of times, one of which was for the try, and just generally I thought we dominated them, which was good.

“Unfortunately we still made too many errors in the second half, but I’m not overly concerned because that’s something that you work on in the week, but you can’t afford to give teams like Bristol and London Welsh the same opportunities because they will punish you.

“In the second half against London Scottish we had a good go, and we’ve had a good week, but we just need to finish teams off.

“Teams aren’t going to come and play Leeds and lie down for you so you have to work hard to break them down and that’s what we did.”

Having made six changes to the side that lost in Richmond last Saturday, including Nathan Hannay for Matt Smith to start against his former club, Leeds began the game strongly.

The build-up to the home side’s first score though was a comedy of errors; first Stevie McColl completely misjudged an up and under kick and then Jersey flanker Latu Makaafi knocked on with the try-line at his mercy.

The ball then found its way to Craig Hampson whose fast break found Calum Green who offloaded for David Doherty to charge over in the corner.

Glyn Hughes then missed the chance to add the two extra points and Alex Rae’s side hit back immediately with a 35-metre penalty by Niall O’Connor after Leeds were penalised at the breakdown.

Lowes’s side continued to dominate and from a 10-metre scrum, Rowan peeled away from the back of the pack to score his side’s second try and Hughes added the simple conversion from in front of the posts.

From nowhere though, Jersey cut the deficit to just two points on the stroke of half-time. Visiting the Leeds 22 for the first time in the match, the ball was worked wide and Drew Locke sprinted over between the posts and O’Connor added the extras.

After a scrappy opening five minutes to the second period Carnegie extended their lead through Hughes’s 20-metre penalty after Jersey were penalised for offside, before O’Connor responded with his own kick to bring the sides closer again.

Leeds thought they had scored their third try through replacement Lee Imiolek. Having collected the ball from a five-metre lineout, the former Sale Sharks prop was pulled back by referee Steve Lee for a knock on.

If the decision not to award the ‘try’ looked harsh, Leeds continued to press a resolute Jersey defence and Hughes landed his first penalty of the match after Jersey were penalised for offside.

Minutes later Hughes added his second penalty when the visitors were punished for handling in the ruck and the former Moseley fly-half scored from the edge of the 22.

With Jersey going in search of a losing bonus point, a strong Carnegie push drive took them into the opposition 22, and having been penalised for going offside, replacement Alex Lozowski scored the resulting penalty.

Leeds’s third and final try on the stroke of full-time was their best of the afternoon. After a powerful carry from Imiolek, Doherty was held up inches short of the line.

Then, having almost crossed over in the corner, replacement Lozowski’s cross-field kick was spectacularly touched down by centre Josh Griffin in the opposite corner.

The former Chelsea football academy graduate’s conversion drifted wide and with no time left to mount another meaningful attack, the home side had to settle for a four-point win.

Leeds visit Bristol next Sunday looking to build on this bounce-back victory which, ironically, saw them drop a place to fifth in the Greene King IPA Championship.

London Scottish, their vanquishors last week, earned a five-point win over Ealing Trailfinders to climb above Carnegie into the all-important top four.

Bristol are second in the table, but their defeat to Cornish Pirates yesterday means only three points separate the sides in second and sixth place.

Leeds Carnegie: McColl, Griffin, Lucock, Burdon (Goss 66), Doherty, Hughes (Lozowski 70), Hampson, Lockwood (Harris 53), Nilsen (Graham 66), Currie (Imiolek 53), Hannay (Smith 68), Green, Beck, Doyle (Walker 68), Rowan.

Jersey: Locke, Foster, McCrea, Bishop, Dawson (Penberthy 5, Dudley 32), O’Connor, Williams, McCarthy, Felton (Taione 62), Young (Selway 60), Campbell (Markham 68), Rae ©, Makaafi (Voss 72), Buckle, Maidment.

Referee: S Lee (RFU)