- Yorkshire Carnegie 18-20 Ealing Trailfinders
- Yorkshire win 52-36 on aggregate
Yorkshire Carnegie reached their first-ever Greene King IPA Championship final after falling to a narrow defeat to Ealing Trailfinders in their semi-final second leg.
Bryan Redpath’s side – who finished second in the regular season table – brought an 18-point lead into the game from the first leg but looked nervous at their Headlingley home.
Curtis Wilson and replacement Rayn Smid both crossed for the Trailfinders while Carnegie were held tryless but Ford booted six penalties to seemingly give them victory.
But with the last play of the game, Luke Peters went over in the left corner to cap a sweeping end-to-end move and give the Trailfinders a deserved victory on the night.
An inconsistent display at home was not the warm-up for the final Yorkshire wanted but after falling at the semi-final stage in three of the last four year, they will not care one iota.
Curtis haunts his former club
Aaron Penberthy and Ford had exchanged penalties early on but former Carnegie winger Wilson has been in fine form of late and it was he who crossed for the first try of the game.
Trailfinders lock Barney Maddison made the score with a fantastic half-break and offload despite having two tacklers hanging off him. And Wilson, who also dotted down in the first leg of the semi-final, did the rest to storm clear on the 25-minute mark for his eighth Championship try of the season.
Despite starting the match with an 18-point deficit, the Trailfinders were undaunted and could have had a second score before the interval as their dominant scrum turned the screw.
But despite earning three penalties in quick succession on the Yorkshire try-line, referee Tim Wigglesworth kept his cards in his pocket and eventually the hosts lifted the siege with a penalty of their own.
Joe's just the job
Ford’s 14 point from the kicking tee made all the difference in the first leg and the fly-half was at it again for Carnegie at Headingley.
The older brother of England fly-half George continued his one hundred percent record from the tee over the two legs with two penalties in the first half.
That meant that Carnegie were only 10-6 down at the break despite being under the cosh for much of the first period.
And the fly-half – whose distribution with ball in hand also caught the eye – added his third of the night soon after the break to trim the visitors lead to just one point.
And three more penalties in the final quarter took his tally to 18 points and means he finished an impressive 11 from 11 over the two legs.
Trailfinders turn the screw
Ealing’s impressive set-piece did damage throughout against what is normally a well-drilled Carnegie outfit.
The visitors’ season is now over but they have staged a remarkable recovery from their 11th-place finish in the 2015/16 season to crack the top four this time around.
They pushed Carnegie all the way and in the second half re-took the lead in the leg when replacement Smid barged over from close range to reward an outstanding period of pressure.
Penberthy missed with the extras however and Ford’s metronomic kicking looked like it had told before Peters struck late, dotting down in the left corner after confirmation from the TMO for a fine win.
But it is Carnegie who are through to the final where they appear likely to face runaway league leaders London Irish who take a 32-point lead in Saturday’s second leg of their semi-final.
We have done it! Yorkshire Carnegie are through to the Play Off Final for the first time in our history. pic.twitter.com/jEqxg137az— Yorkshire Carnegie (@carnegierugby) May 5, 2017