Disjointed phony war goes way of Carnegie
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.
Prop star: James Thraves scores Carnegie’s second try