Preview & squad for Yks Carnegie (H) 20.12.1419/12/2014
The Greene King IPA Championship is back, just as some supporters' withdrawal symptoms start to get to critical levels. Round 9 may feature some tasty match-ups, such as Worcester's trip to London Scottish and the cross-Tamar derby between Albion and the Pirates, but for supporters of Jersey and Yorkshire Carnegie there is only one match that stands out.
The clash between the two sides at St Peter will be a pivotal encounter, particularly as the Championship table is congested; just eight points separate fourth and 11th places, and Carnegie could jump ahead of the Islanders with a victory.
The form book appears to favour the visitors, who have lost just one of their last five games, while Jersey have five straight losses. Unless you're discounting the British & Irish Cup and looking at league form, in which case it's just about even-Stevens with four defeats from five.
Jersey's haul of seven bonus points, matched only by second-placed Worcester, has enabled the Islanders to claim a mid-table berth as Christmas looms, but Harvey Biljon knows that supporters want more than bonus points to take away from home games at St Peter, particularly in the last game of 2014 and with leaders Bristol the next team to visit St Peter in early 2015.
Jersey's Head Coach experimented with his squads for recent B&I games, but has reverted to tried-and-tested personnel for this weekend. None of the starting backs began last weekend's Cup game against Carmarthen Quins: Jonny Bentley is back at fly-half to face the team for whom he played in the second half of last season, Mark Foster and Mark McCrea are on the wings and Grant Pointer plays at full-back ahead of Ross Jones-Davies, who drops to the bench.
Three key forwards are back in the frame: tight-head prop Harry
Williams and lock Pierce Phillips came through come-back Cup
appearances in Wales, and loose-head Sam Lockwood, a former
Carnegie player, is also fit to return. Phillips forms a
substantial engine room partnership - more than 13 foot tall and
around 39 stone in weight - with the Scot Nick Campbell. Skipper
Alex Rae will once again feature at blind-side flanker, while Paula
Kaho gets the nod at number 8 ahead of Mick Noone, who is one of
five replacement forwards.
Jersey squad v Yorkshire Carnegie 'H' - Greene King IPA Championship, Saturday December 20th, St Peter - k-o 2.30pm
Alex Rae (capt)
Yorkshire Carnegie in 2014/15
Carnegie made an impressive start to the league season, with away wins at Pirates and Moseley and a creditable showing - it finished 13-26 - against a strong Bristol side, but then league fortunes dipped with defeats against Doncaster and Nottingham.
The British & Irish Cup began with defeat to Rotherham, but since then they have won five matches on the spin to qualify comfortably for the quarter-finals - Carnegie will travel to Bristol next month.
After the first B&I break, a Yorkshire derby against Rotherham at Headingley yielded the lowest-ever Championship scoreline, with the Titans scoring two penalties to none, and there was further disappointment in defeat at Bedford and in the home encounter with bottom side Plymouth, when only a late try by Christian Georgiou secured a 19-all draw.
The above trio of Championship encounters were sufficiently badly-received that Head Coach Gary Mercer was moved away from his duties, with Forwards Coach Tommy McGee stepping up to take charge for the second phase of B&I Cup matches.
Three weeks later, Mercer remains listed as Carnegie's Head
Coach, but there are no signs that he has returned, or will come
back, to his role. Local media oop north have reported that McGee,
buoyed by three Cup wins and a quarter final place remains in
charge of first team affairs for the forseeable future.
Thanks to the B&I Cup draw two seasons ago, the clubs have met six times in two seasons. Click on the scorelines below to read the match reports:
September 2012 (league): Leeds 32 Jersey 19
October 2012 (B&I): Leeds 27 Jersey 33
December 2012 (league): Jersey 20 Leeds 17
January 2013 (B&I): Jersey 12 Leeds 27
November 2013 (league): Leeds 29 Jersey 13
March 2014 (league): Jersey 13 Leeds 18
History of Leeds RUFC
While it has plenty of different names, the current club was formed in 1992 as a result of the merger between Headingley Football Club (founded in 1878) and former rivals Roundhay (est. 1924).
The new club climbed the leagues and appointed professionals Colin Stephens (Youth Development Officer) and Phil Davies (Director of Rugby) in 1995 and 1996, as well as moving to Headingley Stadium. In 1998 the modern era truly arrived when rugby union in Leeds became a brand, namely Leeds Tykes, in partnership with the city's league brethren the Rhinos. Under the ownership of Leeds Rugby Limited, by September 2001 the Tykes had reached the Premiership, then sponsored by Zurich.
The highlights of a five-season stint in the top flight were finishing fifth in 2002/03, earning qualification for the Heineken Cup, and lifting the Powergen Cup in 2005. But the cup success was followed by relegation 12 months later, in spite of the presence of star names like Justin Marshall and Gordon Bulloch in the squad.
The next incarnation of the club saw Leeds Carnegie formed in 2007 after the return to the Premiership as a result of a partnership with Leeds Metropolitan University, who acquired a 51% share in the club. The Carnegie names came from the Scottish entrepreneur and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie whose Carnegie Trust funded the establishment of a PE teaching training college in 1933. Carnegie College is now the Carnegie Faculty of Sport and Education within Leeds Metropolitan University.
Current England Coach Stuart Lancaster (pictured above)
was involved with the club for 16 years, serving as Director of
Rugby before leaving in 2008 to join the England set-up. He was
replaced by Andy Key, while England flanker Neil Back became Head
Coach. The yo-yo existence continued with two seasons at the top
level, attracting home crowds of between 4,000 and 10,000, followed
by relegation in 2011 and a mid-table performance in 2011/12 (6th
in the league, 3rd in promotion pool B).
In 2012/13, Leeds launched a perfectly-timed run to the play-offs by winning their last six games, and once there they made a fine fist of supposedly unbeatable Newcastle, winning 24-19 at home but losing the second leg 15-6 at Kingston Park.
Last season also ended in the play-offs. While most who follow the Championship remember how London Welsh surprised Bristol in the final, not everyone recalls how close Leeds came to reaching the final: Carnegie led the Welsh by 13 points with just 15 minutes to play, but two late tries, a conversion and finally a Gordon Ross penalty that sealed a 60-58 aggregate victory for the Exiles.
The 'Yorkshire Carnegie' re-brand was unveiled in February of
this year and introduced in July as the players returned for
Other rugby this weekend
Two other games on Saturday: Jersey Colts take on St Malo at St Peter at 10.30am, while at 12noon the Buccaneers make the short journey south to take on Les Quennevais.
Round 9 of the Championship stretches across eight days, and in
fact overlaps with Round 10, which starts when Carnegie host
Worcester next Saturday, 30 minutes before the Cream Tea
Scone-fight at Brickfields.
See HERE for the full Championship preview
Have a splendid Christmas, and enjoy your festive fix of