Yorkshire Carnegie v Jersey Reds: Stirling expecting stern Jersey test

Matt Smith.
Matt Smith.
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YORKSHIRE Carnegie director of rugby Chris Stirling is in no mood to see one particular record broken at Emerald Headingley tomorrow.

His side have won 10 of their last dozen games in all competitions as they continue their rise back up the Championship table.

Chris Elder.

Chris Elder.

Fifth-placed Jersey Reds arrive next, an opponent who have never won at Headingley in any of their seven meetings there so far.

Stirling said: “Let’s make sure we make that eight.

“We know it will be a tough game against them.

“Jersey had been going really well.

Yorkshire Carnegie coach Chris Stirling.

Yorkshire Carnegie coach Chris Stirling.

“I know they’ve lost their last three matches but when you look at those games they were pretty unlucky not to win a couple of them.

“They had a run of seven or eight wins on the bounce at one point, too, and, though they’ve hit a bit of a hole, they remain a good team.

“They are physical, have a good set-piece and a very good back-three.

“I know they will severely test us on Sunday and we have to be on our game again.”

Jersey won the reverse fixture 36-19 in September but, of course, that was during a woeful start to the season that saw Carnegie rooted to bottom.

The hosts recruited heavily in November, though, and turned around their campaign.

“For anyone looking at the league table, who doesn’t know how much we’ve strengthened, they’d think it’d be a foregone conclusion (a Jersey win),” added Stirling, with Carnegie still down in tenth.

“But we’ve won ten of our last 12 games now and we’re hitting our KPIs (key performance indicators).

“We’re doing that with five of the six KPIs, including turnovers and penalties conceded, and we know if we do that we tend to end up on the right side of the ledger.

“Our tackle completion is outstanding, it’s just our tackle dominance we need to work on but it’s getting better, and the guys are going really well.”

Stirling makes four changes to the starting line-up after last week’s 33-15 win at Nottingham.

Chris Elder returns at full-back so Jacob Umaga switches to centre alongside Pete Lucock and Elijah Niko moves back to the wing.

Nic Mayhew starts in place of Marc Thomas in the front-row and tighthead Andy Foster and lock Matt Smith return for Carnegie who this week announced they are looking globally for new investment to fund a promotion push next term. Jersey director of rugby Harvey Biljon is looking to his side to arrest the mini-slump that has included defeat at leaders London Irish, a narrow cup reverse to Cornish Pirates, and a below-par display on home turf last weekend that saw them lose 24-14 to rivals London Scottish.

He brings eight new players into the starting XV.

They include the established front-row trio of Roy Godfrey, Charlie Maddison and Leeroy Atalifo plus ex-Carnegie scrum-half Will Homer.