Sterling sees bright future despite Yorkshire Carnegie's present woes

THE good news for Yorkshire Carnegie is that a number of players will soon be returning to fitness while others will be arriving as new additions thanks to investment from the club's owners.

Yorkshire Carnegie forward Matt Smith is tackled by the Bedford cover (Picture: Matt Smith/Varley).

The bad news is that Chris Stirling’s men lie bottom of the Championship after a fourth straight defeat that increases their relegation fears.

It was difficult not to sympathise with Stirling’s injury-crippled side yesterday as they fought tooth and nail in a thoroughly entertaining encounter at an increasingly impressive-looking Emerald Headingley.

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Captain Dan Temm’s exhilarating late try secured Carnegie a losing bonus point, which was the least they deserved for straining every sinew during their best performance of the season.

When the final whistle sounded, a number of Stirling’s players sank to the turf as the potential damage caused by another defeat hit home.

Director of rugby Stirling said afterwards: “I’m not concerned at all by our league position because we’ve got a strategy in place, which will start to unfold over the next month.

“The plan is to basically strengthen the squad by getting our key players back on the field, bringing some new players in, and having a really strong push at the back end of this season.

“We aim to get some momentum going and get the squad into a standard where we will be a very strong contender to win the Championship next season.”

Centre Andy Forsyth was pressed into action as an emergency fly-half due to the injury crisis in Stirling’s wafer-thin squad. But the hosts led when openside flanker Josh Bainbridge was driven over the line in the 10th minute.

Bedford, a seasoned Championship outfit, hit back with a close-range score of their own through Jarad Williams and the visitors led 13-7 at the break.

Although Carnegie’s scrum creaked at times they showed plenty of ambition in attack.

In the 57th minute Forsyth sent centre George Watkins scampering clear to score before Ben Cooper and Jacob Fields scored from close range for Bedford in the final quarter.

Yet Temm’s delightful 40-metre gallop through the visiting defence made it three tries apiece in the 77th minute, although ultimately three penalties from Bedford’s Jacob Atkins proved the difference.

Stirling added: “When we scored that late try and they kicked off part of me was hoping the referee would blow for full-time so we could hang on to that one point.

“But the way the guys played we actually came damn close to breaking through and scoring again. With the amount of injuries we’ve got it shows how much the players are digging deep and as a coach or director of rugby that’s all you can ask for.

“I’ll look everyone in the eye, shake their hand, and say ‘well done’.”

Yorkshire Carnegie: Brown, Moor, Watkins, Bullough, Elder; Forsyth, Fox; Jenkins, Donnellan, Foster, Myerscough, Smith, Lloyd, Bainbridge, Temm. Replacements: Gibbings, Thraves, Ilnicki, Ward, Britton, Bruzulier, Davey

Bedford Blues: Lane, Davies, Robling, Strachan, Adamson; Atkins, Dickson; McCarthy, Clare, Penny, Carrick-Smith, Flanagan, Curry, Nay, Williams. Replacements: Fields, Ellis, Cooper, Taylor, Worthington, Lennon, Hooley

Referee: Greg MacDonald (RFU).