THERE is a familiar pattern developing for Yorkshire Carnegie and not just the obvious one involving defeats.
They lost their eighth successive game yesterday and remain winless in 2019-20.
However, there is a recurring theme in the manner of those defeats; plenty of endeavour and competitiveness, even looking like a side capable of victory, only to crucially fall away and see everything undone.
Against promotion-chasing Ealing Trailfinders, whose rugby budget is around 10 times that of Carnegie, Martyn Wood’s side only trailed 19-13 until the final play of the first half.
There had been plenty to be encouraged by, not least the performance of promising 18-year-old centre Dan Lancaster, but by the end of the second period, when they were left utterly bedraggled and conceded four tries in quick succession, they looked like a side in disarray.
That perhaps is understandable given the raft of Premiership talent that had entered the fray from Ealing’s bench to finish off the job as the hosts tired.
Indeed, it all felt a little unfair as the mismatches kept occurring everywhere you looked but, unfortunately, this is the position part-timers Carnegie find themselves in and things are not going to alter too quickly.
Saturday’s game at Hartpury would, at first glance, seem a more likely chance to garner that still elusive maiden victory yet the Gloucestershire club vanquished London Scottish 44-17 on Friday; Carnegie’s bid to avoid relegation is probably going to be even tougher than anyone expected.
Before things went awry at the end of the second period – winger Ryan Shaw was also sin-binned for dangerously running into David Johnston as the full-back rose to claim a kick – they had plenty of territory and had their opponents unsettled at times.
However, just as they seemed to be building some momentum, too often a rudimentary error would see them leaving with nothing. The line-out was again, at times, problematic although Carnegie’s scrum did well for decent spells.
Wood said: “The first half we focused on penalty count as our discipline wasn’t acceptable last week.
“But I think there were six penalties in that first half so that obviously was disappointing.
“There were positives, though. We were in the fight and competing. It’s just the pace and the power (of Ealing) that beat us in the end. A few of the boys went quite well in the first half like Conor Davidson at loosehead – I think the scrum went quite well – but we just need to get off the line and win the collisions.
“If we don’t win the collisions and get quick ball, their pace and power showed what can happen.
“It is tough. We’re not shying away from the fact that it is tough.
“The boys have been excellent throughout and they turn up every Tuesday and Thursday and really put it in. They are working really hard on a part-time basis and they are doing some good stuff.
“We’ve just got to keep continuing and keep believing and we will get there.”
They were 14-0 down inside just 12 minutes after converted tries for Kieran Murphy and – following a storming run from former Carnegie winger Elijah Niko – Nathan Fowles.
Many might have expected them to fold after such a poor start but soon they were back in touching distance.
They earned a scrum penalty which Shaw kicked and moments later the former Hull KR winger intercepted Lewis Jones’s pass to race in from halfway for a try that he also converted.
Johnston replied with an Ealing try but Shaw slotted a second penalty after Lancaster – son of former England coach Stuart – was hit high.
Ealing centre Harry Sloan was unlucky to be yellow carded for the 36th-minute foul; Lancaster had slipped a moment before impact, falling down into the tackle.
Still, the visitors – who have former Carnegie coach Jimmy Lowes in their staff – managed to rumble over via Andrew Durutalo following a driving maul.
Ealing added another try when still down to 14 men, although there was good fortune involved as Craig Willis’s grubber rebounded off a post straight to Reon Joseph in the 47th minute.
Alun Walker dummied over for another and then referee Jack Makepeace awarded a penalty try as the home side, now feeling the pressure, collapsed a scrum on their own line.
It was almost inevitable Ealing would finish with a flurry and that came as holes started appearing in the Carnegie defence with far more regularity.
Oli Robinson, Joseph and Sloan all helped themselves to tries.
Yorkshire Carnegie: Howden; Shaw, Matavesi, Lancaster (Robins 37-40), Lawson; Carlisle (Robins 65), Turner (Green 54); Davidson (Reid 66), Musetti (Sowrey 61), G Smith, Hammond, Bloodworth (Humfrey 48), Lloyd (Brady 73), Gough (Lavin 49), T Smith. Substitute unused: Faletau.
Ealing Trailfinders: Johnston; Niko (Bell 70), Jones, Sloan, Joseph; Willis, Fowles (Hampson 57); Davis (Ellwood 56), Cornish (Walker 62), Trenier (Davis 52), West, Casson (Dickinson 52), Murphy (Reid 54), Durutalo (Robinson 61), Smid.
Referee: Jack Makepeace (RFU)