London Scottish v Yorkshire Carnegie – Ball retention crucial to Carnegie hopes of first success

YORKSHIRE CARNEGIE can climb off the bottom of the Championship table when they visit London Scottish this evening.

Yorkshire Carnegie's Dan Lancaster isback in the line-up for Friday's clash at London Scottish. Picture: Steve Riding.
Yorkshire Carnegie's Dan Lancaster isback in the line-up for Friday's clash at London Scottish. Picture: Steve Riding.

Scottish are one place and three points clear of Carnegie, who picked up their first point of the campaign with a bonus from last week’s 66-26 home loss to Coventry.

Tonight’s hosts – coached by former Castleford Tigers player and team boss Graham Steadman – are one of three teams on four points and Carnegie will travel south knowing victory could lift them as high as eighth.

Carnegie coach Martyn Wood, though, insisted he is focusing on performances first, then results will take care of themselves.

The former Wasps, Bath and England scrum-half was appointed in July, just two months before his side’s first competitive fixture.

Carnegie have gone part-time this year, with an entirely new squad and Wood admitted he “always knew it was going to be tough, when you are trying to build a team on a very small budget in comparison to other teams in the league.”

But he stressed: “We are at ground zero and we are just trying to build the best we can, week on week. Training has been excellent. It is going to be a big challenge but one we are really looking forward to.

“I think there’s an opportunity for our first victory of the season, but we’ve just got to take a step back and worry about our process first and foremost.

Martyn Wood, left, with Joe Ford.

“If we do what we’ve been doing in training, we will go from there.”

Carnegie have conceded 153 points in their three league defeats, but have the most potent attack in the bottom-five, having scored 62.

Wood insisted: “We are dangerous when we’ve got the ball, at times we just need to keep hold of the ball.

“Our set-piece needs to be better, we know that and our defence needs to be a lot tighter and not leak those tries.

“More importantly, we need to look after the ball. If we do that we are dangerous at times.”

Scottish are also without a win in the league this term, but only table-topping Newcastle Falcons have a better defensive record.

The Exiles drew 6-6 with third-bottom Ampthill last week and both their defeats were tight, 17-13 at home to Newcastle and 17-14 away against Nottingham.

Carnegie were beaten 50-7 at Richmond in the Championship Cup a month ago and Wood warned: “They are a good team.

“Graham Steadman is a very good coach, he has got them well-drilled and they have got some good players there.

“It is going to be tough, we know that, but each game is tough in this league.

“We have just got to keep fighting.”

Tim Bitirim has been ruled out of tonight’s game with a knee injury, so Joe Carlisle moves to full-back, Dan Lancaster returns at centre and Andy Lawson, a replacement last week, starts on the wing in place of Joel Matavesi.

Up front, Trystan Lloyd replaces hamstring victim Callum Bustin and Thom Smith moves to number eight. Two new loan signings from Worcester – props Joe Morris and Kai Owen – are on the bench.

Yorkshire Carnegie (at London Scottish, 7.45pm): Carlise, Lawson, Shaw, Lancaster, Varndell, Ford, Elliot, Flynn, Sowrey, Faletau, Brady, Humfrey, Lloyd, Seabrook, T Smith. Replacements Museti, Morris, Owen, Lavin, Gough, Findlay, L Smith, Howden.