By George Rogan
Promotion chasing Yorkshire Carnegie are looking forward to their second straight play-off campaign as they prepare to face Ealing Trailfinders in the semi-finals of the Greene King IPA Championship.
They will be looking to go further than last year where they lost to Doncaster Knights at the same stage.
The Leeds based club will be aiming to improve from the league stage, where they finished second. 17 points behind the leaders London Irish.
Head coach Chris Gibson will be looking to lead Yorkshire back to the Guinness Premiership for the first time since they were relegated in the 2010-11 season. And the team will be confident they can reach the final as they face the side they beat twice during the regular season.
Yorkshire beat the Ealing Trailfinders 33-20 in the last game of the season. However, the head coach will be reminding his players that league results will count for very little in the play-offs as many players were rested during that match. The other match between the two sides came back in September so both teams will still feel the game could go either way.
The Trailfinders finished fourteen points behind Carnegie in the league but have made a miraculous improvement on last season. Back then they finished eleventh and safety was only confirmed following a win in the penultimate game of the season.
The first leg will be played at the Trailfinders Sports club on Friday and will be played on a plastic pitch. Centre Peter Lucock said that won’t affect the result: “At the end of the day it’s just who uses conditions well.”
The second leg will be on the following Friday at Headingley. Yorkshire Carnegie fan Lewis Stevenson is feeling confident ahead of the semi-final and said: “We can beat anyone in the league.”
The form of the Northern side has largely been good throughout the season and they were even battling for top spot until a blip in February and March saw them lose four league games in a row.
Since then they have returned to winning ways with three consecutive wins to lead them into the play-offs.
On that bad run, Stevenson added: “It was just a bad spell and we’ve bounced back better since so it doesn’t worry me.”
The other play-off is being competed between Doncaster Knights and London Irish; the sides who finished fourth and first respectively.