Leeds Carnegie has carried on their fine form of last season where they were beaten in the play offs by ChampionsNewcastle. Despite this, a change of coach was needed with former Rugby League star, and Leeds Rhino’s assistant coach James Lowes crossing codes to take over the Yorkshire giant.
Lowes has been happy with his sides progress, sitting in second place coming into the clash with Jersey, ‘We are progressing well but there is still work to do. The players are growing in confidence, and it is good to see the hard work we have been doing in training coming to fruition on the field.’
Much of Leeds’ success can be attributed to a legend of the game, Sir Ian McGeechan. His experience, which includes coaching on five Lions tours has been invaluable for a young coach like Lowes. ‘Sir Ian is very much leading the club with our ambitions for the future and our plans for Yorkshire Carnegie,’ said Lowes. ‘He and our Director of Rugby Chris Gibson are a great support to the coaching staff.’
Lowes has been credited with the development of many young players in the 13-man code. With the club changing it’s name and looking to envelop more of Yorkshire, the homegrown talent must come to the fore. Lowes said, ‘The long term vision for the club is to create sustainable success at the highest level by developing and retaining the best local talent.’
Former Jersey captain Nathan Hannay was signed by Leeds in the close season. A popular figure on the Island whilst he was here, he has been improving and impressing at his new club. The head coach stated, ‘Nathan has been going well and has been a key part of our forward squad under the guidance of Tommy McGee and Dave Baldwin. I'm sure Nathan is looking forward to going back to Jersey.’
An indifferent start to last season saw Leeds lose two of their first four matches, before a fifty point battering by Newcastle. They got their season back on track with a brace of wins before a shock home defeat to new boys Jersey in the cup, which stunned the home faithful. Never able to get a decent run of results together it was very much a case of two steps forward and one back for Carnegie pre-Christmas, despite playing some scintillating rugby at times. A narrow defeat to Newcastle at home and a poor display against Doncaster gave the Yorkshire men the kick they needed and they went on a six game winning run, taking them up to fourth and the play offs. Beating Newcastle 24-19 in the first semi-final was a massive result, but the regular season leaders sadly had just enough to win the second leg 15-6, on their way to promotion.
The season so far:
Leeds Carnegie may well have a new name for next season, and they may well have a new division in which to play if they maintain their current form. With former Jersey players David Doherty and once Captain Nathan Hannay, Leeds have topped the table and currently sit in second place.
They started the current term slowly, losing the One Big Weekend clash with Nottingham, one of only four league defeats the Yorkshire outfit have suffered this season, getting back on track with a pair of wins on the road against Pirates andBedford before demolishing Ealing at Headingley. Hannay scored his first Leeds try against Gala in the British and Irish Cup, the first of 14 that day, as Leeds put over 80 points on the beleaguered Scottish side. London Welsh became the first, and thus far only side to beat Leeds at home, and then LondonScottish took the spoils, but only after fellow Yorkshire high flyers Rotherham were dispatched. Jersey was beaten in the first of eight straight wins, including four British and Irish games, putting them comfortably in the quarter finals.
Welsh then did the double at the Kassam Stadium 19-10, but this only preceded another purple patch where Leeds put a half-century of points on Bedford, 46 against Ealing and 62 against Moseley, and last weekends win over Scottish has cemented their place in an exceedingly tight top four.
Previous with Jersey:
Jersey’s first ever away match in the Championship saw them up against the once mighty Leeds at Headingley. Despite trailing early on, a Michael Le Bourgeois try, the first at this level, had put Jersey ahead, but they went in 13-all at half time. Leeds was to prove too strong in the second period, and overpowered the new boys with two second half tries to prevail 32-19.
A second trip to Yorkshire, this time played at York RFC’s home ground in the British and Irish Cup, came hot on the heels of a Jersey draw with Pontypridd, ending a run of six straight defeats, and The Reds were to go one better this time. Le Bourgeois put the Islanders ahead early on with the first of his five successful first half penalty kicks, but despite Leeds responding with a try, Jersey actually led 15-10 at the break. The second half also bore early fruit as a penalty and a Guy Thompson try gave Jersey a 13 point lead. Leeds hit back with their second seven pointer, but when Donovan Sanders crossed for Jersey’s second with ten minutes left, Jersey sensed the win. Incessant Leeds pressure saw two Jersey players in the sin bin, and when Leeds crossed to reduce the deficit to six with three minutes to go, nerves were frayed, but they held on to massively increase confidence for both the team and their battle weary supporters.
Back at St Peter Jersey were hopeful of another league win, but when trailing 3-10 at the break on a more than heavy pitch to Doherty’s try, the signs did not look good. Leeds laid siege to Jersey’s line in the second half and were unlucky not to have gone further ahead, before a Thompson break led to a Max Stelling try. Jersey was now the side on top and minutes later were awarded first a penalty try, and then a penalty gave them a ten point lead. But as Jersey fans are well aware, the team appear to thrive on late drama, conceding a second to Doherty with five to go, but the Reds held on to win by three.
The return British and Irish Cup game was a disappointing affair, with neither team able to progress. Leeds had scored three tries without reply in the first half and their 22 point lead was to prove insurmountable, especially when they notched a fourth try early in the second period. To their credit Jersey did respond, and the pack applied sufficient pressure to score a brace of penalty tries as the Yorkshire men collected a pair of yellow cards and a red as they struggled to contain the Islanders power, but ultimately Leeds prevailed 27-12.
On to this season and the Headingley encounter once again saw old boy Doherty score against his previous employers, but despite a second Leeds try, Mark McCreareduced the deficit to 12-10 at the break. Jersey were to score only one penalty in the second half despite all their efforts, but four from Leeds and a late Josh Griffin score put the game well out of reach, finishing 29-13 as Leeds continued their fine run of form.
Leeds Carnegie, Ones to watch:
Position: Full back/wing
Former Jersey player Doherty will always be remembered fondly by the Islanders after his one season at the club when he helped gain promotion to National One, scoring the final try in the play-off victory over Loughborough students with his final touch off the ball. Beginning his career at Leeds, he left to join Wasps after they were relegated and spent two seasons with the London club before moving to Sale Sharks. then to Pirates in 2010, he subsequently topped the try scorers charts that season with 14 before returning to his Yorkshire roots in 2012. 13 tries saw him one behind top spot and another fine season has seen him cross the whitewash nine times already this term.
Position: Centre/Full back
Sharing the kicking duties with Glyn Hughes has meant that Lozowski sits in fifth place in the points scorers chart, rather than challenging the prolific Rotherham star Juan Socino. Lozowski, a former footballer was released by Chelsea aged 16 after spending six seasons with the European Champions. The son of former England centre Rob is also studying for an economics degree at Leeds University. Moving to the Wasps Academy after Chelsea, his rugby has flourished despite a broken leg whilst in London. Lozowski made the England students side last season, and is highly thought of at Headingley.