Sunday’s 36-10 defeat to Championship leaders Newcastle Falcons was a ninth straight league loss and they are still awaiting a first success of the campaign.
The winless part-timers had initially been training two nights per week but, since Phil Davies returned as director of rugby in the new year, they have upped that in a bid to start fighting away from the bottom of the table. There were plenty of positive signs against promotion favourites Newcastle, whose vast budget and resources dwarfs those of Carnegie.
Indeed, the disciplined and well-organised hosts trailed only 12-10 at the break, having also taken the lead at one point in the first half.
“Phil’s been really positive,” said Lancaster, about the experienced Welshman who led Leeds Tykes in their most successful period from 1996 to 2006 and coached Namibia at last year’s World Cup.
“He’s very passionate and that’s how my dad (ex-England boss Stuart) described him; he wants Leeds to be the best we possibly can.
“We were training twice a week but it’s been bumped up so it’s now either three or four sessions if we can.
“So we’re trying to get more like a full-time environment and the guys are really buying into it.
“People have to come from a couple of hours away so the commitment is there. Obviously it’s a tough commitment for people who have jobs and are working full-time but it’s a testament of what we are all trying to fight for. And, obviously, with the crowd on Sunday (2,121) it was probably the most we’ve had so people are really buying in and we’re trying to buy into where Leeds should be.
“We’re trying to get that sense of pride back and everyone in the community back together. It’s been really positive but obviously it’s going to be a long journey.”
The spirit of the side was clear to see as they swarmed in on Newcastle, continually defending with real power until their illustrious rivals eventually pulled clear at the death.
“That was especially so the first half when we took the lead 10-5,” added Lancaster, the young centre who started at fly-half with Joe Ford ill.
“There were just little areas in the first half that made it 12-10. But 12-10 against Newcastle in the first half we’d definitely take that. We had clear goals each 20 minutes and executed them really well first half.
“They are a class side and, in the second half, obviously they put loads of pressure on us. We couldn’t really get out of our 22 for a large period but fought really hard and were quite clinical in defence at points.
“In the end, though, we need an 80-minute performance and to keep in that fight for 80 minutes. They kind of ran away with it eventually but there’s plenty of positives and we need to take that to Jersey on Friday.”
Bedford Blues have won their last two games to open up a 15-point gap so Carnegie know they have to find points soon.
Lancaster, 18, added: “I think we just focus on ourselves and not anyone else.
“We’re on our own journey and not really concentrating on Bedford or Doncaster; if we do keep improving each week we know the results will come and performances.”