First-half tries from Mike Mayhew and Jonah Holmes cancelled out Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi’s score for Irish to give Yorkshire a 15-13 lead at half-time.
But the London side came out reinvigorated to outscore their opponents 16-3 in the second half thanks to a try from Fergus Mulchrone and 11 points – to take his total for the day to 19 – from the boot of Tommy Bell.
However, the 29-18 win will be worth nothing if Irish are beaten by 12 points in the return leg at the Madejski Stadium on Wednesday (7.45pm).
“It’s only half-time and it doesn’t mean anything yet,” head coach Nick Kennedy said.
“It’s all about looking after the guys for next Wednesday’s second leg as it will soon come round.
“They had a good first half but at half-time we told our players to focus on two aspects, which paid dividends.
“I can’t reveal exactly what the plans were as there is another game next week.
“With the rain all day, we expected them to play a tighter game but both teams missed opportunities and I was very pleased with our set piece in the second [half] as our experienced bench made a considerable difference.
“The forwards made the hard yards and Tommy Bell was very accurate with his kicking when the penalties were awarded.”
Carnegie meanwhile have been under the stewardship of Bryan Redpath since 2015 and have twice missed out on promotion in the play-off stages.
And the former Scotland international bemoaned the absence of a yellow card for Irish centre Aseli Tikoirotuma when he tackled Holmes high.
“The way yellow cards have been awarded this season for that offence that was a sin-binning all day long and a yellow card at that stage could have had a vital bearing,” Redpath said.
“I was chuffed with our effort and our first-half display but we lacked composure in the second half and didn’t give ourselves a chance.
“There were a lot of positives to take and it’s now a tough climb for us but we’ll give it a crack next week – but we have to be smarter.”
Source : EXPRESS