Dis­jointed phony war goes way of Carnegie

The Rugby Paper - - News - ■ By COLIN NEWBOULT

WHEN the squads were an­nounced, this pre­cur­sor to the play­offs – where York­shire and Eal­ing will once again go head-to-head – never felt like it would be par­tic­u­larly sea­son-defin­ing. And so it proved.

Re­sults last week­end de­ter­mined that Satur­day’s match – be­tween two ex­cel­lent Cham­pi­onship teams – be­came an in­signif­i­cant end of sea­son jaunt.

In ev­ery facet, the semi­fi­nal will be a com­pletely dif­fer­ent prospect. The mass changes the sides de­cided to make for this en­counter meant it was a game lack­ing in con­ti­nu­ity, qual­ity and, ul­ti­mately, ex­cite­ment.

Ir­re­spec­tive of the seven tries, it was a rather turgid af­fair, dom­i­nated by mis­placed passes and poor ex­e­cu­tion. Both teams were equally cul­pa­ble be­fore York­shire, who con­tained the greater depth and abil­ity, even­tu­ally as­serted their au­thor­ity on pro­ceed­ings.

That was de­spite their set-piece prob­lems. Carnegie head coach Bryan Red­path watched on as his pack of forwards were con­tin­u­ally dis­man­tled by a pow­er­ful vis­it­ing scrum.

Part of it was down to the al­ter­ations, with in­ex­pe­ri­enced props Matt Beesley and James Thraves tak­ing the front row berths but, even when the cav­alry ar­rived – which in­cluded Har­lequins-bound Lewis Boyce – the hosts still strug­gled for sta­bil­ity.

Red­path ap­peared un­con­cerned by those is­sues, how­ever, and ex­pects his side to be much im­proved when the semi-fi­nal comes around.

“I wouldn’t say the set­piece let us down, I just think we learned a lot about it,” he said.

“We know that’s a mas­sive strength for them so, if we can com­pete and get par­ity there, we’ve got a great op­por­tu­nity on our hands.

“We knew it would be a tough game be­cause they’re a strong set-piece team. Some of the lads haven’t played a lot this year but I was de­lighted with the re­sponse.”

Ben Ward, Eal­ing’s direc­tor of rugby, was sim­i­larly con­tent with as­pects of their dis­play, but ad­mit­ted that the long sea­son and the up­com­ing semi-fi­nal forced him to make changes.

“There’s a lot of plan­ning go­ing on for the next two weeks, with not a lot of em­pha­sis on Satur­day’s game, but when you come into it you still want to win,” Ward said.

“We were dis­ap­pointed we weren’t able to do so but we look to build. At this stage of the sea­son you’re on your last legs a lit­tle bit but with the week off we’ve got a chance to plan for what we’re go­ing to do.”

Trailfinders were very

much in the game at the in­ter­val thanks to Aaron Penberthy’s three-poin­ter and a penalty try, even though Richard Beck and Thraves tries had es­tab­lished an early lead for York­shire.

How­ever, the hosts pulled away af­ter the in­ter­val when Beesley, Andy Forsyth, Chris El­der and Mike May­hew all touched down.

Eal­ing con­trolled the fi­nal quar­ter but ex­cel­lent Carnegie de­fence, com­bined with poor han­dling by the vis­i­tors, meant that the Lon­don­ers could muster only another Penberthy penalty and a Wil­lie Ryan try in the sec­ond pe­riod.

PIC­TURE: Stephen Gaunt

Prop star: James Thraves scores Carnegie’s sec­ond try

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