Yorkshire Carnegie have now completed the first half of the Greene King IPA Championship campaign following Friday’s bonus point win over Bedford and they are on course to equal the club’s best season ever.
The 2008-09 promotion winning season remains the high water mark in terms of wins in a season with just two defeats all campaign. Neil Back and Andy Key’s side lost on the road to Doncaster and Bedford in consecutive weeks in the second half of the season but were unbeaten at the half way point ahead of gaining promotion back to the Premiership in a sixteen team Championship.
The 2000-01 has a similar theme to the current campaign. Phil Davies’ side were up against familiar foe Worcester for promotion. The Warriors had spent heavily on their squad and led the table for the majority of the season. They struck an early psychological blow with victory at Sixways in the second game of the season but that was Leeds’ only defeat in the first half of the season. Worcester faltered in the second half of the campaign and victory thanks to a Ian Clarke try at Headingley over the Warriors held propel the club to our first ever promotion to the top flight with just two defeats all season, the second coming at Henley on the last day of the season when promotion was already assured.
In 1999-00, like this season, we also only lost one game in the first half of the season, at promotion rivals Rotherham, however three further defeats in the second half of the season saw the men from Clifton Lane finish top and gain promotion in a 14 team league.
Yorkshire Carnegie’s record so far this season, does beat the 2006-07 promotion winning campaign under Stuart Lancaster. Lancaster had entirely rebuilt the squad following relegation and, inevitably, the first half of the season was a tough affair. Defeat on the opening day against London Welsh was followed by a narrow loss at Bedford in round seven. The fixture list that season was not divided in half on a home and away basis, so the first clash with Rotherham at Clifton Lane was not until after half the games were played. Carnegie did lose both games to Rotherham that season but Doncaster’s victory over Rotherham in the South Yorkshire derby, three rounds from the end of the season, handed promotion to Leeds when they secured a bonus point win at Otley at the same time.