BRYAN REDPATH admits his Yorkshire Carnegie side must improve their “mindset” if they are going to continue at the top of the Championship.
They edged past Doncaster Knights in last night’s derby at Headingley and have now picked up victories from five of their opening six league fixtures.
However, the performance was far from fluent and they will have to improve vastly for the trip to second-placed Bristol a week tomorrow.
Carnegie trailed 10-6 at half-time and Redpath said: “I asked them to dig in at the break.
“We have to keep digging in and I have to praise them as they got the scrum going good and the drive, too, but the execution wasn’t there. If we want to be a better side they are easy things to fix but it’s a mindset thing as well such as what part of the pitch we should be playing in.
“We have to look at ourselves and change; I was lost for words with what was going on there on many occasions in that game – as were many people.”
Teenage flanker Josh Bainbridge crossed twice inside six minutes early in the second period to help Carnegie initially take control of what had been a scrappy encounter.
Both times he profitted from lineout drives as the hosts, despite missing a raft of front-row talent, began to exert their influence up front.
Ryan Burrows then surged over from 25m for what proved to be the crucial score as the No 8 picked up at the back of a scrum and splintered some weak Doncaster defence in the 73rd minute. But Redpath’s side did not turn the screw and, instead, their rivals earned a bonus point when Ollie Stedman scored in injury-time, Dougie Flockhart holding his nerve with the tricky conversion.
Doncaster – who had won three of their first five games – were in front at the break courtesy of two smartly-taken tries from winger Sam Edgerley.
However, Michael Heaney, the misfiring fly-half who did not return for the second period, missed both conversion attempts and a penalty to see Carnegie still in touching distance.
Carnegie gave a debut to England Under-18s prop Charlie Capps and Ben Black, who was drafted in from National League Two North side Sedgley Park to ease their front-row injury problems only to then see blindside Mike Myerscough depart injured after just 21 minutes.
Doncaster, in contrast, have barely any fly-halves fit and well.
Indeed, they fielded three scrum-halves in their starting line-up last night given Edgerley, the former England Sevens star, is a nine by trade but similarly effective out wide.
Oliver Bryant, the dual-registration recruit from Leicester Tigers, was more assured than Heaney who was clearly struggling with an injury, but by the time he arrived the hosts’ pack had started to sort themselves out.
Harry Leonard was in fine form with the boot, too, slotting 12 points although the Carnegie No 10 did see two kicks charged down to cause some unease.
The first one was blocked 20m from his own goalline by Brad Field offering Doncaster the opportunity for Edgerley to cross for his second try in the 31st minute. The summer recruit had scored his first effort after just 126 seconds when Carnegie needlessly dropped the ball just inside their own half and Edgerley twice hacked on to punish them. That sort of basic error was rife from both sides in a disappointing first period but Redpath’s side were the first to react in the second period.
Following Bainbridge’s brace, Flockhart’s penalty just after the hour saw Doncaster still in the mix but Burrows – who had been otherwise strangely quiet – brought some raw power and class to end any hopes of a victory at Headingley for two years running.
Yorkshire Carnegie: Holmes; Stegmann, Forsyth, Fitzpatrick (Lucock 71), Georgiou; Leonard, Pilgrim; Beech (Capps 74), Nilsen (Walker 64), O’Donnell (Black 80), Schofield (Barnard 67), Jones, Myerscough (Ryder 21), Bainbridge, Burrows.
Doncaster Knights: Jarvis; Edgerley, Clark, Hurrell, Lewis (Flockhart 40); Heaney (Bryant 40), Field; List (Bergmanas 57), Stagg (Sproston 71), Quigley (John 61), Challinor (Young 40), Phelan, Makaafi (Shaw 57), Hills, Stedman.
Referee: Andrew Small (RFU).
Author Simon Ravens will launch his book Riverball – the story of his journey following Wharfedale’s exploits last season – at their home game with Darlington Mowden Park today (3pm).