London Scottish 50 Yorkshire Carnegie 7
By Muhammed Sher
A 50-7 defeat to London Scottish doesn’t quite tell the full story of Carnegie’s battling performance at the Athletic Ground, capped by Henri Lavin’s first try for the club.
A young side sprinkled with a dose of experience gave it everything under the lights in the capital, and though the hosts ran in eight tries, a rousing second half performance will have pleased head coach Joe Ford ahead of this week’s RFU Championship opener against Bedford Blues.
Scottish came out of the blocks firing, with skipper Lewis Wynne forcing himself over from close quarters after just three minutes.
Big Lithuanian lock Matas Jurevicius quickly followed him onto the scoreboard, charging down Jamie Eliot’s box-kick clearance to gather the loose-ball and canter over.
Just when it seemed Carnegie might buckle, the visiting back-row came to the fore – Will Hill, James Seabrook and Henri Lavin tackled themselves into the ground with Zach Kerr in midfield always a go-forward option.
Scottish number eight Matt Eliet added two in quick succession just before the hour mark to extend his side’s lead to 26-0, but the Yorkshire response was positive.
Tim Bitrim was the first to break the blue line after scooping up the ball from a broken passage of play and but for a fractionally early pass, Tom Varndell had the white line in sight.
Lavin was the next to conjure up some hard-won yards for Carnegie and just when they were seeing the shoots a foothold, Scottish added their fifth – loose head Jonny Harris rumbling over from a controlled rolling maul that splintered a back-peddling Carnegie defence.
Turning around 33-0 down, you might have forgiven Yorkshire for going through the motions in the second 40, but they did anything but.
Eliet completed his hat-trick early on after the re-start, profiting from Harry Sheppard’s soft hands to ghost home, but it only galvanised Ford’s charges.
Bitrim again made an incisive break, this time down the short side and with Varndell again in support. The ex-England man was dragged into touch metres short, but it was clear he first try of the season was in the offing.
Kerr was the next to go close, only to fumble at the vital moment but it wasn’t to matter. From a penalty, Carnegie opted to go tight and a secure drive allowed Lavin to dot down, to acclaim from both sets of supporters.
The introduction of Ben Sugars provided another shot in the arm for Yorkshire, the ex-West Park Leeds punching holes in the Scottish rear-guard every time he got hold of the ball.
Luke Hibberd and Rob Stevenson added further scores for a confident Scottish side who will certainly take some beating on their own patch, but for Carnegie there’s plenty to look forward to ahead of the visit of the Blues to Emerald Headingly this weekend.