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Leeds Carnegie coach praises Clifton Parkers despite Jersey defeat
DISAPPOINTED Leeds Carnegie coach Diccon Edwards said he wished his side had brought a performance to match the atmosphere at York’s Clifton Park ground.
The Headingley club failed to get the result they wanted on their visit to the Minster city – falling 33-27 to Jersey in the British & Irish Cup yesterday.
It was the first game Jersey had won all season, in eight attempts, and, in front of a crowd of 820 at the home of York RUFC, Leeds produced a disjointed and penalty-ridden performance.
Edwards was delighted with the York facilities and the playing surface, but added he wished his team had been able to perform as he had hoped in the build up.
“In terms of the organisation, the facilities and the pitch, I think it has been a fantastic occasion as far as we are concerned,” he said.
“Credit to York for what they have done to try to create this atmosphere. We’ve had a great day for it. The huge disappointment, from our perspective, is that we haven’t brought a performance that has reflected all the hard work that has gone into it.”
Edwards made six changes from the side which lost 47-18 at Leinster ‘A’ in their first Pool Five cup clash with most eyes on centre Oli Goss, making his debut following his summer move from Doncaster Knights having recovered from the ankle injury which had kept him out of the campaign so far.
The Leeds boss might have wanted his players to put on a show but it was the Channel Islanders who got off to the better start.
Glenn Bryce and James Copsey stretched Leeds with a fast breaking move and, when they transgressed, fly-half Mike Le Bourgeois stepped up and fired the penalty through to put Jersey ahead after barely two minutes.
Leeds tried to play their expansive game but were finding it tough in the face of strong tackling and a succession of handling errors.
Pick and drive tactics might be for the purists, but it was how they scored their first try on 16 minutes.
They battered the Jersey line through repeated phases and, although Fred Burdon was held up, the tired visitors could only clear their lines to the 22.
Leeds pounced as quick possession and an excellent pick up from Matt Smith gave Jamel Chisholm a clear run into the right corner after an easy pass was popped into the path of the onrushing winger.
David Doherty converted and then extended the lead on 21 minutes with a penalty after Jersey failed to roll away.
But having withstood the early fire and forged a lead, Leeds inexplicably let the visitors gain a foothold in the game once more.
Referee Charles Sampson went repeatedly to the whistle throughout the remainder of the first period as the ‘home’ side committed penalty suicide.
Collapsing the scrum on 28 minutes allowed Le Bourgeois to nail a difficult penalty from the wide right and, flushed with confidence, he then belted three more straight through the middle of the uprights as Jersey led 15-10 at the break.
It was a theme that continued after the restart as Leeds kept falling foul of the officials.
Le Bourgeois kicked Jersey further ahead just two minutes in and Leeds hooker Phil Nilsen went to the sin-bin, the first of four yellow cards produced by Sampson in the second period.
While he was off, Jersey scored their first try – Leeds falling asleep defensively and Guy Thompson profiting from quick play.
But Jersey haven’t struggled to win for no reason and they also downed tools defensively on 50 minutes as replacement Joe Graham slipped through to touch down.
No sooner did Nilsen return to make up Leeds’ full complement, however, than Rob Baldwin, a replacement who had been on the pitch just three minutes, endured another ten on the sideline after seeing yellow for not rolling away.
Le Bourgeois’ metronome boot produced another three points in punishment but Doherty kept the gap at six with a penalty of his own as Jersey’s Nathan Hannay saw yellow.
The visitors effectively put the game beyond Leeds’ reach on 69 minutes when Donovan Sanders squeezed through in the right corner following a period of severe pressure, a try the touch-judge had to confirm with referee Sampson unsighted.
And although Leeds gave themselves hope as Curtis Wilson executed a sublime spin move to score himself, Copsey produced a match-saving tackle on Richard Beck following the most incisive piece of play the Yorkshire side produced in the entire match to ensure it was the Channel Islanders who were celebrating at the final whistle.