Yorkshire Carnegie’s ambitions to make this the season they rejoined the rugby elite received a setback in the very first game of the 2018-19 campaign.
Beginning their eighth season outside the Premiership, Carnegie were beaten 16-5 by Gloucestershire outfit Hartpury College.
It was a damaging start to the new season, one that has seen the optimism surrounding New Zealand maestro Chris Stirling’s appointment offset any concerns that the club’s budget is dwarfed by that of the likes of London Irish and Ealing Trailfinders.
However, for a team that finished sixth last season, it is clear they are still some way short of their promotion aim after falling to a side who finished 10th last year in their first term at second-tier level.
Carnegie trailed 10-0 at the break, a deficit that owed more to their own mistakes, in attack and defence, as much as anything. Pete Lucock spilled a JP Bruzulier pass in one of many chances to attack at the heart of the Hartpury defence in the first half.
Carnegie fell behind early, Matt Gilbert finding a gap close to the visiting line to power over after Hartpury capitalised on a Carnegie mistake.
Luke Cozens’ conversion and a later penalty gave the hosts a handsome advantage.
Cozens extended that lead further in the second half before Dan Moor dived into the corner belatedly got Carnegie on the board.
Brendan Cope, however, pulled the conversion attempt wide.
Hartpury responded instantly with a move that they believed resulted in a try only for a double knock-on to see that score wiped out.
From the restart, the hosts won a penalty which Cozens kicked and the Yorkshire visitors could not respond, despite their best efforts.
Scrum-half Chris Elder was the fulcrum of their most probing attacks but a pass that was then knocked-on, summed up the visitors evening.
Otley travel to Fylde in their National Two North opener while in the same division, Wharfedale travel to newly-promoted Peterborough Lions.