PRAGMATIC Yorkshire Carnegie head coach James Lowes maintains he is not concerned if his side fail to secure British & Irish Cup quarter-final qualification today.
They complete their pool fixtures with a game against unbeaten group leaders Jersey Reds at Scarborough’s Silver Royd.
However, after losing 29-19 at London Scottish last week, Carnegie’s hopes of making the knockout stages are no longer in their own hands.
The five pool winners plus three best runners-up go through and Yorkshire – despite three wins – are in an invidious spot.
Lowes said: “We’re in the worst position of the lot I reckon and old ‘JC’ would have to pull a few strings for us to go through if I’m honest.
“But at the moment I’m not bothered if we do or don’t.
We took quite a young side out there and it was like rabbits in the headlights for some of themYorkshire Carnegie coach James Lowes
“It’s out of our hands. I just want us to play well and perform.
“We did so in spurts last week against Scottish – played very well, in fact, at times – but we just let ourselves down with a couple of poor defensive errors.”
With recent freezing conditions, there will be a pitch inspection at 9.30am this morning to decide whether the game can go ahead.
Lowes says he has learned from previous mistakes in the competition such as naming a under-strength side when they lost 32-3 at Jersey in October.
“We took quite a young side out there and it was like rabbits in the headlights for some of them,” he recalled.
“They just weren’t ready for that. It was probably an error on my part not putting more senior blokes into that side.
“But we showed when we went out there in the league (Carnegie won 20-10 the following month) what we could do.
“They tried to bully us around again but weren’t able to with the senior guys in. That was a big lesson as regards team selection.”
With that in mind, he does have plenty of experience on show this afternoon having made eight changes including bringing back captain Richard Mayhew, ex-Newcastle Falcons flanker Ollie Stedman and former Bath prop Charlie Beech. Lock Matt Smith has overcome illness to replace Jack Whetton,
Chris Elder returns at full-back in place of George Watkins, youngster Tom Bullough makes his third start of the season at centre whilst Pete Lucock and Will Homer combine in the halves.
Championship rivals Jersey have already qualified having won all five games so far but the Scottish defeat was only Carnegie’s first defeat in seven outings.
Lowes conceded: “We’re going alright.
“We were disappointed last week with the result but some of the stuff we played was really good and I just want to build on that. There was a little bit of inexperience last week but if we keep pushing forward results will take care of themselves.
“The squad’s attitude has impressed me most; we’ve been in some close games and the lads attitude never to give up has been really good as it has all year.
“I’ve been throwing stuff at them to try things and their willingness to do that has been really impressive.”