Nottingham Rugby 22 Yorkshire Carnegie 27
Yorkshire Carnegie ran in three tries, including one for debutant Elijah Niko, as they booked their place in the Championship Cup knock out stages with a 27-22 win at Ladybay.
Yorkshire Carnegie fell behind early on with Nottingham, who needed to win both remaining pool games to stand a chance of progressing to the knock out stages, crossing for a try after just two minutes when Luke Peters forced his way over. O’Leary added the conversion for the hosts.
Carnegie settled into the game after that early set back and got off the mark when Jacob Umaga comfortably slotted over a penalty after six minutes.
Yorkshire then took the lead six minutes later with skipper Pete Lucock finishing off a strong spell of pressure when he was the beneficiary of a superbly floated pass by Jade Te Rure to go over. Umaga was on target again to give his side a 10-7 lead.
Carnegie were unable to make the most of more possession after that and they were punished by Nottingham as they worked a smart move off a line out to put Jordan Coghlan in space and the number eight powered through the gap before stepping Umaga to go over between the posts. O’Leary added the conversion as the lead changed hands again after 24 minutes.
However, Chris Stirling’s side then took control of the game through their forward pack. Chris Elder went close from a cross field kick on an advantage play but when subsequent penalty was kicked to touch there was only going to be one result as the maul rumbled forward before hooker Joe Buckle touched down.
With two minutes to go in the first half, Carnegie collected their third try with a try on debut for winger Elijah Niko. Once again it was the forward pack who did the damage as they won the ball back on Nottingham’s put in and JB Bruzulier spotted the gap on the blindside to put the winger over. Umaga added the conversion from the touchline to give his side a 24-14 lead.
Nottingham cut the gap with the final play of the first half as O’Leary kicked a penalty from 25 metres out to make it 24-17 at the break.
Yorkshire looked like they had secured a fourth try at the start of the second half when Umaga raced through a gap but the referee called play back for an earlier infringement after he said the full back had been aided by an obstruction to go through the gap. Umaga did increase the lead with a penalty from the subsequent penalty.
However, Nottingham grew in ascendency after that and Yorkshire were made to produce some strong defence to keep the home side out. The home side eventually turned their pressure into points when Chris Elder came out of the line for an attempted interception only for the ball to go over his finger tips into the arms of winger Callum Sirker, who had a simple walk in for the try. O’Leary missed the penalty but his side were back in the game at 22-27 with 20 minutes to go.
O’Leary had the chance to cut the gap with a penalty in front of the posts but he pushed his kick wide with eleven minutes to go. Nottingham kept up the pressure but Yorkshire stayed firm in defence and forced the home side into a string of errors just as they appeared to be building up momentum for a score.
Yorkshire held firm and booked their place in the knock out stages with a 22-27 win.