Yorkshire continued their three-game unbeaten league run with a tight 24-17 victory over Nottingham at Lady Bay.
The visitors scored 10 unanswered points in the first half, through the boot of Joe Ford, along with a late try from Mayhew. Carnegie continued the scoring in the second half, with O’Donnell crossing, along with a penalty try. Nottingham were late to respond, but did so through replacement TJ Harris, who produced a hat-trick of tries to gift Nottingham a late bonus point.
An early penalty from fly-half Joe Ford gave Carnegie an early 3-point lead, and Yorkshire had to wait until the 38th minute for their next points. An exploited overlap out wide, Richard Mayhew celebrated his return from injury when he found himself on the end of a well-worked try. Ford converted, leaving Yorkshire 10-0 up by half time. Yorkshire were reduced to 14 men just before the break when Ollie Stedman was sent to the sin bin.
Nottingham had their fair share of opportunities, with a quarter gone the Green and Whites found themselves deep inside Yorkshire’s 22. Rapid passing through the back line found Morris on the wing, but with difficult windy conditions, the flanker struggled to keep hold, and Carnegie cleared their lines.
Calum Hall did score on 22 minutes for Nottingham, but the final pass was deemed forward in what were windy and difficult conditions for flowing rugby.
The final 10 minutes of the first forty saw Yorkshire dominate. A superb driving maul transferred the visitors 20 meters up the pitch, and Ford was able to whip the ball out wide, finding hooker Mayhew for Yorkshire’s first try.
Costello’s side were quick out of the blocks heading into the second forty, but Yorkshire absorbed the pressure well, and were able to win a key territory battle. A five-metre Carnegie scrum pushed Nottingham back well over their own line, and referee Fergus Curby had no option but to award the penalty try, with Ford converting.
Yorkshire’s next score would be their last, as the visitors found themselves metres away from the line, playing against a scrambling Nottingham defense. Replacement Robert O’Donnell picked and drove from the base of the ruck to score Yorkshire’s third of the evening, Ford once again adding the extras.
The remaining twenty minutes would be all Nottingham, as the hosts introduced three new substitutes, including TJ Harris, who with his first touch, dotted down from the base of a driving maul to score Nottingham’s first.
The hooker would do it again just seven minutes later, this time breaking from the maul and sprinting clear. Rayner couldn’t convert, but the fly-half was in action moments later.
The pressure mounted even further when Rob O’Donnell became the second Yorkshire player to be sin binned in the closing stages.
Harris then completed his hat-trick in the 79th minute, in an identical try to the first. Rayner converted, and Nottingham attempted to play out from the kick-off, but Yorkshire kept their defensive wall up, and saw out a dominant, yet tight win against the Green and Whites.
The victory means Yorkshire stay in their second-place spot, just seven points behind top-of-the-table London Irish.