Carnegie edge penalty and points battle against Doncaster
YORKSHIRE CARNEGIE drew first blood with victory in the opening leg of a white rose quadruple-header, but it was not the 33-20 scoreline or his side’s performance which left Doncaster Knights’ director of rugby Clive Griffiths disappointed and frustrated afterwards.
Griffiths, back at the helm after a heart attack two months ago, felt the total of 33 penalties spoiled the Championship Cup tie, played at Hull Ionians’ Brantingham Park, and prevented either side from finding any rhythm.
Doncaster came off slightly worse, being penalised 17 times and in the end it was Yorkshire full-back Jacob Umaga’s faultless goal kicking which proved the difference between the teams.
On loan from Wasps, he landed four penalties and converted both Carnegie’s firsthalf tries before a thigh injury ended his participation.
Yorkshire led 26-3 at half-time and were 30 points ahead with 14 minutes left. Then their first try scorer, Dan Temm, was sinbinned for persistent offending and almost immediately Doncaster scored their first touchdown through Ben Hunter.
On 74 minutes, Yorkshire were reduced, briefly, to 13 men when a shoulder charge led to Will Britton being yellow carded. Curtis Wilson ran in a fine solo try within moments and Hunter added his second – following Temm’s return – in stoppage time.
Doncaster were pressing for another try, to possibly earn two bonus points, when the final whistle blew. All three of their touchdowns – the first converted by Dougie Flockhart who also kicked a penalty in the opening period – came after they had won a lineout from a free-kick, but Griffiths was unhappy with the stuttering nature of the game.
He paid full tribute to Yorkshire’s performance, but said: “Both teams wanted to play, but it was a stop-start affair.
“It [so many penalties] is daft. We had the wrath of the referee early doors and they had nine points on the board before we knew it. They didn’t do much in the first half to get the points they did; they had an interception, four penalty goals and an interception on our 22.
“That was their points and we said if we stay positive and don’t let our heads drop we will score points against them. The one opportunity we had we scored, but it was chalked off for an obstruction which we see every week.
“In the second half we were dominant and we got a bit of parity then because there was about nine high shots by Yorkshire and eventually they got yellow carded.
“I don’t want to see people going off for innocuous high shots that don’t hurt anybody, but that’s the life we’ve got in front of us at the moment and it is very frustrating for spectators, players and coaches alike.”
Doncaster’s second-half performance will give them confidence for Saturday’s home return, plus the league game at Castle Park later next month and a final meeting between the teams in April.
“There were lots of positives for us, I thought the two kids [Sam Jones and Seth Adams] came on and were great,” added Griffiths. “That was their senior debut, but the ludicrous situation for them is they can’t go back and play for Yorkshire 20s or England counties because they’ve gone on and played 14 minutes today. Those are archaic laws.”
Temm took advantage of a Doncaster fumble in the contact to gallop over for Yorkshire’s first try and youngster James Davey intercepted a pass from Paul Jarvis, whose touchdown had been ruled out earlier in the half, to add a second. Chris Elder grabbed the third, improved by Jade Te Rure.
It was Carnegie’s second win in three cup ties and third of the season overall. Their director of rugby Chris Sterling reflected: “The first half was probably some of the best rugby we’ve played this year. “That was pleasing. I thought our composure was good, they tried to get under our skins, but we answered back by dominating at set-piece and kicking our goals to get our nose in front. I thought we were quite clinical in the first 40.”
Of the sin-binnings, he admitted: “The tackle law is what it is – we’ve just got to get better at it.”
TACKLE COUNT: Doncaster’s Curtis Wilson, centre, goes down low in an attempt to stop Yorkshire’s Jacob Umaga.