EVEN the weather gods played into the hands of Kevin Sinfield for his Yorkshire Carnegie debut.
This British & Irish Cup game against an Ospreys Premiership Select was due to take place at Huddersfield YMCA’s ground as one of Carnegie’s ‘On The Road’ fixtures.
However, the Laund Hill pitch was deemed unplayable yesterday morning after all the incessant rain in the region and, so, the match was fittingly switched to Headingley which is, of course, somewhere Sinfield is rather more familiar with.
The former Leeds Rhinos and England captain had been in training for the last three weeks since making the cross-code switch and emerged from the bench yesterday after 65 minutes to help steer his new club, in his new sport, home.
Carnegie were 24-10 ahead when the 35-year-old replaced Joel Hodgson , as expected, in the fly-half position and to a rousing reception. Sinfield showed some slick distribution and, aside from one sliced penalty into touch, instantly looked at ease, although he was never really tested defensively or tackled.
He kicked a penalty, having showed great handling to slip Josh Bainbridge through a gap, but failed to convert Taylor Prell’s superb late try from the touchline.
All in all, there is certainly plenty of promise and he will seek greater game-time when Carnegie head to Ireland for Friday’s B&I Cup game at Munster A.
“I really enjoyed it actually and look forward to my next outing,” admitted Sinfield. “The lads have been brilliant, ever since my first training session, and out there on the field today I felt very much at home especially with it being at Headingley
“There is some relief. I just wanted to play from the minute I joined but realised I just can’t be thrown out there as it’d be pretty dangerous.
“But a lot of people spent a lot of time with me – coaches and players – and prepared me as much as they could for this and it felt good.
“There wasn’t any nerves really building in – I was aware I’d get limited minutes today – but maybe when I was warming up to come on I felt them then.
“I quite like that, though; it shows it means a lot to me and it does. I want to succeed and help the lads get better and help the team try and achieve something.”
A crowd of just 627 witnessed his union bow, a far cry from the 15,000 plus that ordinarily watch Rhinos, but there is expected to be far more in attendance when London Welsh – relegated from the Premiership last season – arrive at Headingley for the club’s next Championship game on Friday, November 27.
Head coach Bryan Redpath, meanwhile, made a dozen changes to the starting line-up that lost 22-21 the week before, duly missing the chance to usurp Bristol from the league’s top spot.
That meant a first appearance of the season for prop Ben Hooper and Richard Beck, the flanker who has been plagued by injuries in recent months.
It was Bainbridge, though, one of the three survivors from that Bedford starting XV, who got Carnegie up and running as the young openside continued his remarkable try-scoring run.
The 19-year bagged a brace from first-half line-out drives to take his tally to nine in just eight games so far this season while winger David Doherty and lock Matt Smith also crossed as the hosts built up a 24-3 advantage inside just 26 minutes.
Dean Schofield’s yellow card just before the break hampered them and, when the second-row was still off, Rhys Jones scored Ospreys’ only try in the 46th minute, Joel Matavesi adding the conversion to his earlier penalty, but Carnegie finished strongly.
Yorkshire Carnegie: Holmes; Doherty, Wright, Lucock, Prell; Hodgson (Sinfield 65), Pilgrim; Beech (Capps 58), Graham (Poole 78), Hooper (O’Donnell 63), Schofield, Smith (Ryder 75), Beck (Barnard 63), Bainbridge, Williams.
Ospreys Premiership Select: Phillips; Williams, J Thomas, Watkin (Giles 71), Giles; Matavesi, Aubrey (Morgan-Williams 80); M Thomas (Lewis 40), Dwyer (Davies 58), Griffiths (R Thomas 74), Jones (Rattit 75), Hughes, Cole, Evans, Boladau.