ALREADY IN an invidious position, missing a dozen injured players from an already small squad, Yorkshire Carnegie can ill-afford to gift opponents anything.
However, they did just that yesterday when, having battled hard to take a 17-14 lead early in the second period, they conceded two sloppy tries to allow opponents Nottingham to take control.
Granted, Chris Stirling’s side had had to make five changes to the squad that lost at Ealing Trailfinders the previous week and it could be a couple more weeks yet before any new recruits arrive.
Nevertheless, they will have seen this as an opportunity lost especially against a side who, like them, had won just one of their opening three games beforehand.
As well as those gifted tries to David Williams and Shane O’Leary – Seb Cecil scored in comical style in the first half also – there were other fault-lines, not least Carnegie’s line-out.
Too often it failed to function, Carnegie losing their own throw on at least three occasions and, more pertinently, just when they needed possession to get a hold back in the game.
Carnegie trailed 14-10 at the break but made a perfect start to the second period when, just two minutes in, they forced a turnover and swift handling to the right saw winger George Watkins – their most impressive player – arrow back in for a fine try.
Brendan Cope converted but no sooner did they have that 17-14 advantage, they gave it away.
Just three minutes later, Nottingham winger Williams found acres of space from a kick return and raced 60m untouched for a quality solo effort – but one Carnegie will now feel should have been prevented.
O’Leary missed the conversion attempt but did tag on a penalty and then could not believe his luck as Cope’s botched pass squirmed to the floor.
Fly-half O’Leary picked up the loose ball and, like Williams before, sprinted in from 60m with no home player able to lay a finger on him.
He improved his own effort to leave Nottingham 29-17 ahead approaching the hour mark and, in all honesty, from thereon in, they never looked troubled.
It was no surprise when, after another Chris Elder kick was charged down at the death, replacement front-row Rory Burke rumbled over for O’Leary to complete the scoring.
Earlier, Carnegie opened with Cope’s 10th-minute penalty but then hit the self-destruct button for the first time.
Carnegie will have seen this as an opportunity lost especially against a side who, like them, had won just one of their opening three games beforehand.Dave Craven
First, full-back Elder saw his clearance kick from inside his own 22 charged down although, as the ball ricocheted back behind the goalline, Dan Moor had ample time to defuse the situation.
However, the winger failed to deal with it in the slippy conditions, allowing Cecil to nip in for O’Leary to convert.
The visitors added to the scoreline after Mike Myerscough was sin-binned for dragging down a maul in the 24th minute.
From the next line-out, Carnegie were left out-of-sync when the ball came out of the back for centre Luke Daniels to capitalise, O’Leary’s kick putting them 14-3 ahead. Stirling’s side, in fairness, did steady themselves but missed some perfect opportunities to apply some pressure of their own.
They conceded a free-kick when Nottingham faced a line-out in their own 22 and then Cope missed touch with a penalty.
The former Jersey fly-half endured a difficult day with the boot; one of his other touch-finders barely made any distance while, with the last play of the half, he put in an unthreatening grubber when his side were well-positioned to set up for a drop-goal.
By that point, they had narrowed the deficit to just four points. Nottingham’s Danny Qualter was yellow-carded in the 33rd minute for the same offence as Myerscough.
The visitors repelled Carnegie initially but erred again and, from the next line-out drive, hooker Dylan Donnellan crossed with Cope improving.
Watkins then put them ahead but that would be their final score and they head to bottom-placed Jersey on Friday in real need of a win.
Yorkshire Carnegie: Elder; Watkins, Forsyth, Bullough, Moor; Cope, Fox (Bruzulier 57); Jenkins (Thraves 52), Donnellan (Gibbings 69), Ilnicki (Foster 56), Myerscough (Ward 80), Smith, Britton (Frost 80), Lloyd, Temm. Unused replacement: Wolstenholme
Nottingham Rugby: Scanlon; Williams, Millett, Peters (Lyons 74), Robinson; O’Leary, Veenendaal (McConnell 51); Penman (Sio 57), Cole (Farnworth 68), Daniels (Burke 65), Cecil, Qualter, Coghlan (Buckley 51), Owen (Cox 80), Poullet.
Referee: Dean Richards (RFU).