ACADEMY GRADUATE Ollie Fox reckons Yorkshire Carnegie are turning a corner.
A disastrous start to the season has left the Leeds-based side bottom of the table, but two wins from their opening three games represents a solid start in the Championship Cup and gives them something to build on for the crucial league fixtures looming in the new year.
Dewsbury-born Fox was among the replacements in last weekend’s 33-20 win over Doncaster Knights at Hull Ionians, playing out of position on a wing.
The sides meet again at Castle Park on Saturday – before a Christmas league clash at the same venue – and Fox, 19, insists both form and confidence is improving.
Carnegie led 26-3 at half-time last weekend and Doncaster did not breach their defence until a late spell of sin-binnings which reduced Carnegie to 13 players at one stage.
Fox, normally a scrum-half, said: “I thought the boys were really clinical in that first half.
“We just ground out the result, exited really well and just put the pressure on Doncaster.
“We carried that on in the second half and hung on to win. It is always going to be an emotional game against Doncaster, a Yorkshire derby, but I thought we took that out of the equation and stayed really clinical and stuck to our process.”
Doncaster, who scored the game’s final three tries after trailing 33-3, will be gunning for revenge this weekend following the end of their three-match winning run.
“They’ll get to know us and we’ll get to know them pretty well,” Fox observed. “I’ve never experienced a cup period like this, but it’s just another thing we’ve got to adapt to and work around.”
Carnegie have three more cup games to play before resuming their league campaign with the Christmas derby at Doncaster. Those ties will be all about building some momentum for the Championship, and Fox stressed: “Just winning is massive for us at the minute, we haven’t got many of those, but it’s a habit and we are trying to build on that.
“Confidence comes with wins, but also performances and bits of performances that we are happy with so it can only get better from here.”
Carnegie have made a number of signings in a bid to strengthen their squad ahead of the return to league action and Fox feels their introduction has provided a timely lift.
He added: “The guys who’ve come in have really got stuck in, they are committed to learning and helping this club, which is great.”
Fox was one of four players in last week’s team who had come through the club’s academy system, alongside starting winger Harry Davey, who scored Carnegie’s second try, and replacements Josh Bainbridge and Ryan Hamilton. Already capped by England under-18s, he was this week called into the national under-20s squad for the first development camp of the 2018/19 season.
That will take place at Loughborough University from tomorrow until Sunday, ruling Fox out of this weekend’s encounter.
Of his own form, Fox said: “It’s similar to the team, a sort of a rocky start, but as we start to get more performances and start to build, hopefully I can get back on track, as well as the team.”