YORKSHIRE CARNEGIE will have an 18-point lead to defend in next week’s Championship play-off semi final second leg after this pulsating 34-16 win over Ealing in the opening leg.
Two tries from Jonah Holmes and one each from Alex Davies and Ryan Burrows proved decisive.
After a fast and furious start, the home side opened the scoring with a 45m penalty.
Rory Clegg made no mistake after Yorkshire had been penalised for side entry at the ruck. But as the half wore on Carnegie grew into the game and Holmes spotted a gap and charged over between the posts.
Joe Ford made no mistake with the simple conversion.
Moments later a Ford kick behind the Ealing defence caused confusion and Holmes nipped in to score his second try in as many minutes. Ford added the extra two points.
Sharp thinking and opportunism led to Carnegie’s third score. Ford intercepted a Clegg pass and despite being caught by Phil Chesters, his offload saw Davies crash over against his former club. Ford nailed his third conversion.
Carnegie were now into their stride and after Burrows’s marauding run created a good attacking platform, the ball was played back to Ford, who knocked over a drop goal from 22 metres.
The visitors almost had a fourth try just before half-time, but Ben West dropped the ball with the try line at his mercy.
Carnegie looked to extend their lead to 24 points early in the second period but Ford was just off target with a drop goal attempt from 30 metres.
But he made amends, coolly stroking over a penalty just inside the Ealing half.
A last-ditch tackle from Chris Elder prevented Chesters from going over in the corner, but Ealing did not have to wait much longer for their first try.
Will Harries’s break from deep carved open the Carnegie defence and he crossed over. Clegg missed the conversion.
The arrival of Alex Penny into the Ealing front row seemed to stabilise their scrum and, having won a penalty in front of the posts, Clegg took the points to reduce the arrears to 16 points.
Worse was to come for Yorkshire.
Following phase after phase near their line, Ealing worked the ball out wide and ex-Carnegie man Curtis Wilson dived over.
Fortunately Clegg’s radar remained awry and he missed the conversion.
But having withstood considerable pressure, Burrows took the ball from the back of a scrum and charged over for a fourth try deep into added time.
Ford added the conversion meaning Carnegie will have an 18-point lead to defend next week.
Ealing Trailfinders: Harries, Wilson, Jones, Munro, Chesters, Clegg, Carter, Gibbons (Davis 45), Walker, Thiede (Penny 62), Maddison (Casson 66), Townson, Murphy, Smid (Ellis 55), Bright.
Leeds Carnegie: Elder, Holmes, Forsyth, Lucock, McColl, Ford, Davies (Green 65), Boyce (Beesley 75), Nilson (m. Mayhew 65), Faletau (Cusack 53), West, Smith (Myerscough 60), Stedman (Beck 65), R. Mayhew, Burrows.