HAVING been bullied by Doncaster Knights too often last season, Yorkshire Carnegie turned “aggressor” themselves to complete Friday night’s derby win.
They bounced back from their sole Championship defeat at leaders London Irish with a gritty 24-6 success at Headingley against opponents who defeated them in last season’s play-off semi-finals.
Former England Saxons openside Andy Saull, who scored one of Carnegie’s two tries from driving mauls, admitted it was a victory borne out of mentality more than anything else.
“Doncaster are a power team; they want to run at you and run over you,” he told The Yorkshire Post. “But I think last season we just let them do that a bit. The first scrum, the first maul they were always getting an elbow or little knee in at that side and we shied away whereas Friday I felt like we were the ones who were the aggressors.
“You saw when we pushed over their scrum once or twice picking boys off the floor, we were in their face, we were the aggressors this time around.
“It was almost learning from our mistakes and we took a bit of their game.
“They performed exceptionally well against us and beat us twice last season so we said ‘right, this is what you bring, we’re going to try and bring that and some more as well.’
“It was very good from the boys.”
In wet and dank conditions, Carnegie’s pack outplayed their struggling rivals, who have lost four of their nine Championship games.
Saull, 28, admitted: “It was nice to control the game the way we did. In those conditions I thought we did it perfectly.
“We didn’t overplay our hand; we’ve got some fantastic backs but we decided to play the game a lot in their half and Joe Ford was brilliant with his kicking putting us in the right positions.
“Our forwards did what they had to do and won those scrums and mauls to get the tries.”
Carnegie will look to keep the pressure on Irish on Friday when they visit promoted Richmond, who earned their first Championship win with Friday’s 17-16 success at London Scottish.