A Friday night under the lights always brings a little more edge to the game! Welcome to Phil Davies, all the players, staff and supporters from Yorkshire. We know Yorkshire Carnegie will be fighting hard for every league point...it was not that long ago that Jersey Reds were in the same position, battling for survival.
We come into this match off a tough loss against the Pirates - not even getting a bonus point feels unfair after the effort put in by the players (we cannot complain because we definitely had opportunities). Our review of the game was thorough, highlighted some key areas to work on and have addressed these in training. So now the challenge is to transfer that into the game tonight.
Congratulations to our colts XV for their Sussex Cup Win on home turf last Sunday, and to young Harry Doolan for his hat-trick during the win over Brighton - it looks as though the hard work he is putting in training with the 1st XV is paying off. Definitely one to watch for the future!
There is no doubt the Reds need to get back to winning ways and there is not better place to do it than at the Stade Santander in front of our home supporters. I trust you will enjoy the game I know the players can't wait to perform, so please bang the boards tonight!
Phil Davies, who coached Namibia at the recent Rugby World Cup, has returned to the club where he enjoyed considerable success during a previous stint. Davies spent a decade at Headingley and was the most successful coach in the club’s history, leading Leeds Tykes to promotion to the Premiership for the first time in 2001, into the Heineken Cup twice, and lifting the Powergen Cup at Twickenham in 2005.
Carnegie hope that 56-year-old Davies will help inspire a change in fortunes after a difficult first half of the season in which they are yet to win a game. This follows financial difficulties during the latter half of last season which saw the playing squad disband and the recruitment of a new squad take place during July and August.
There were signs of ‘green shoots’ at Emerald Headingley Stadium last Sunday as Carnegie played out a closely-fought first half against unbeaten league leaders Newcastle before the Falcons went up a gear and eventually finished 10-36 winners.
Davies has confirmed that he has funds to bring in a small number of new players to reinforce the squad, admitting that some members of the Namibian squad were targets for this recruitment.
Last season saw the Reds complete a double over Carnegie, winning 36-19 at Stade Santander International in September and then 10-28 at Emerald Headingley in February, their first win at the ground at the eighth attempt.
The brace of wins in 2018/19 bucked a long-term trend in which Carnegie have finished on top in the majority of encounters, winning 13 of 19 league and cup matches since Jersey reached the Championship in 2012.
Several players in the Reds’ squad have played for Carnegie in the past. Josh Bainbridge and Brendan Cope were part of the 2018/19 squad, scrum-half Will Homer made around 20 appearances during the 2017/18 season and both TJ Harris and Auguy Slowik spent brief loan periods at Headingley.
Meet the opposition
Alex joined Yorkshire Carnegie ahead of the 2019-20 season from Manly Marlins in Australia. The Welsh born lock has played for Wales Students whilst at Bath University and signed for Bath back in 2016. He represented Wales Sevens and Neath RFC in the Welsh Premiership and in Australia also played for NSW Country Eagles.
He made his Yorkshire Carnegie debut on the opening day of the season against Nottingham and has played in every game for the club this season and has been one of the stand out players for the team during a tough start to this campaign. He was named man of the match in last week’s game against Newcastle, when he scored the team’s only try in Carnegie’s best performance of the season.
At the University of Bath he studied Chemical Engineering and his first rugby memory was playing a touch rugby tournament on the beach in Primary School.
Dan Lancaster made his Carnegie debut during the 2018-19 season after being a standout player for the Academy. The 18-year old has been an ever present for Carnegie this season and his versatility to play at full back, wing or centre has been invaluable to the team this season.
In 2018 he was named in the Scotland U18s side to face Wales and England, following in the footsteps of his father – former Carnegie and England coach – Stuart, who played for Scotland U19s. He started his rugby with West Park Leeds before being recruited for the Yorkshire Carnegie Academy, and whilst here he also playing for Bishop Burton College and been selected to be part of the England U18 squad.
An excellent goal kicker, he had his first taste of senior rugby last season at Hull Ionians. In his 14 appearances this season he has been one of the team’s most consistent players and has registered two tries for the team.