IT IS when Yorkshire Carnegie head coach Steve Boden refers to what his side could have achieved in the future – using the past tense – that the harsh realities of the club’s predicament hit home.
They secured a fifth successive win yesterday, digging it out from a scrappy derby against Doncaster Knights, and will be up to fifth in the Championship table if they win their penultimate game at Cornish Pirates on Sunday.
However, the success came against the backdrop of last Tuesday’s heartbreaking news that a lack of finances means the club will go part-time next-term; this squad – that has lost just three of its last 17 games – will essentially break up.
With so much uncertainty now about their futures, and having been let down so badly by the powers-that-be, it would have been easy for them to break-up yesterday. Certainly, no one would have blamed them.
However, that was never likely and, with the help of another two tries from prolific No8 Dan Temm, they did enough to see off Doncaster for the fourth time this term, claiming the Yorkshire Regiment Trophy in the process.
“They are an unbelievable set of lads,” said Boden.
It’s a shame people don’t come into our environment more often and see how good they are, how much they care about playing for each other and where potentially this group could have gone because they are a special group.Steve Boden
“I’m really lucky in that I’ve been able to coach them this year.
“It’s a shame people don’t come into our environment more often and see how good they are, how much they care about playing for each other and where potentially this group could have gone because they are a special group.
“I’ve been coaching a while now and I’ve never met a set of blokes that are so committed to each other. That showed this afternoon; everyone was saying we should be buckling today and we were going to write the game off and this, that and the other. But they are just a really good set of men. We are lucky to have them.”
Boden accepted it was far from a vintage display but, in the circumstances, that mattered not.
“The actual performance was very, very poor,” he said.
“That’s no discredit to Doncaster. I think if we’d have been on our mettle we should have scored 40 odd points.
“But it wasn’t about that today. Obviously it’s been a really tough year and an extremely tough week after a lot of bad news.
“The boys just showed what a good group they are. It’s going to be pretty sad to break up and for them to move on to different places. They stuck in there and they played for each other – not for anyone else – and it’s good to see.”
Carnegie started positively but were undone by a poor mistake from Jade Te Rure, the fly-half who fumbled while trying to pick up Kurt Morath’s downfield kick under no real pressure.
If gifted Doncaster possession in their hosts’ 22 and, from a subsequent free-kick, No8 Josh Tyrell barged over far too easily for Morath to improve the sixth minute score.
Te Rure and Miles Thoroughgood ran into each other trying to deal with Morath’s next kick, a lack of communication seeing the ball spill into touch. Still, the home side got their act together to initiate a line-out drive that was destined to end positively until Ryan Burrows pulled it down in the 24th minute.
The former Carnegie captain was sin-binned and referee Karl Dickson awarded a penalty try to see the game levelled. Boden’s side should have gone ahead when Thoroughgood was put into space down the right but the Kiwi’s final pass was slightly off-cue and Temm could not take it.
Still, Temm – the club’s leading scorer this term – did get over soon after in more usual style, the Aucklander rumbling over from close range for his 13th of the campaign as they made the most of the extra man. Chris Elder converted and Doncaster’s problems worsened when Tyrell had to go off injured and Cameron Cowell sliced a kick out on the full.
Nevertheless, Clive Griffiths’ side finished the half in style, full-back Cowell spotting a gap and showing great speed to angle through from around 45m out.
Morath could not improve from wide out and, instead, it was Boden’s side who pushed ahead early in the second period. Temm, inevitably, was the one to cross, following a quick free-kick. Elder did the rest and Carnegie never looked like slipping up.
Doncaster had a fine chance when Nick Civetta bumped his way clear on a 40m run down the middle but, at the crucial moment, Tom Hicks spilled his pass and the Knights’ hopes faded.
Yorkshire Carnegie: Elder; Thoroughgood (Watkins 80), Forsyth, Lucock, Niko; Te Rure, Bruzulier (Wolstenholme 57); Thomas (Hill 65), Donnellan (Buckle 72), Foster (Mitchell 51), R Mayhew, Smith (Lemalu 54), Wilson, Bainbridge, Temm.
Doncaster Knights: Cowell; Wilson, Roberts, Clark (Foley 66), Lewis; Morath, James (Polataivao 68); Hislop (List 75), Hunter (M Mayhew 61), Beech (Sproston 63) , Civetta, Eames, Burrows, Hills (Hicks 70), Tyrell.
Referee: Karl Dickson (RFU).