There was much relief at Headingley as Yorkshire Carnegie recorded their first win at home in the league this season against battling Moseley.
For the best part of an hour the result was still in the balance as relegation-threatened Moseley looked to end a winless run in the league against Carnegie stretching back to 1998.
However, the home side’s superior fitness and class eventually told against the part-timers as David Doherty, Christian Georgiou and replacement Sam Egerton ran in second-half tries to add to a peach of a score from Jarad Williams before the break.
Williams was deservedly voted man-of-the-match after scoring one and setting up another, although back-row colleague Ryan Burrows cannot have been far behind when the votes were cast.
Back from a three-game suspension, Burrows reminded Carnegie fans what they had been missing when he gathered a clearance inside his own 22 and charged 40 metres upfield before being taken to ground.
Moseley were penalised for being offside at the breakdown and Carnegie spent the next five minutes inside enemy territory but without making any real headway, silly errors – as has been their wont this season – prevented them from crossing the line.
Moseley’s first venture into the Carnegie 22 did result in a score, though. Ollie Thomas’s pinpoint kick to touch from a penalty took the visitors to within metres of the line, and hooker Adam Caves seemed certain to finish off a well-organised catch-and-drive move until Carnegie illegally intervened by pulling down the maul. Referee Dean Richards had no hesitation in awarding the penalty try which Thomas improved to hand the visitors the lead after only eight minutes.
Determined work over the ball by Jon Clarke, a feature of his and centre partner Pete Lucock’s play all afternoon, forced a penalty and provided Carnegie fly-half Harry Leonard with his first shot at goal. Leonard drilled the attempt through the posts to raise the spirits of the home crowd.
Blindside Williams, all 19 and a half stones of Welsh brawn, then showed great agility for such a big man to round one defender and fend-off two other would-be tacklers to put Carnegie in front with a superb score on 18 minutes. Leonard converted and Carnegie looked set to lay the foundations for victory. Instead of seizing the moment, Carnegie went within themselves after getting on the wrong side of referee Dean Richards. The Yorkshire RFU’s ‘Silent Sunday’ grass roots initiative aimed at encouraging respect from the touchline might as well have been in place as the 2,000-strong crowd had little reason to cheer in a disappointing second quarter.
Chris Pilgrim’s knock-on provided Moseley with a platform to attack and after the visitors’ scrum stood firm, the industrious Chris Brightwell picked up and drove 20 metres into the heart of the Carnegie defence.
From there the ball was spun out to ex-Leeds man Scott Armstrong. Armstrong linked intelligently with former Doncaster favourite Anthony Carter, who cut a great line to slice open the Carnegie defence and score Moseley’s second try wide out on the right with 23 minutes gone.
Thomas missed the conversion and a penalty on the stroke of half-time but Moseley would have had no complaints going in 12-10 in front having scored on their only two visits to the Carnegie 22.
It took a moment of individual brilliance from Doherty to unlock Moseley’s defence after the break. There was only ever going to be one winner when he saw rotund prop Nathan Williams in front of him 20 metres from the line, the veteran wing showing a great burst of acceleration from a standing start to race through the narrowest of gaps.
Leonard converted and did so again, after kicking a simple penalty, when Georgiou brushed off a weak tackle from Drew Cheshire to score Carnegie’s third try.
Trailing by 13 points and with Mike Powell sin-binned, Moseley’s hopes disappeared when Williams galloped free and found replacement scrum-half Egerton on his shoulder to score their fourth try.
With the bonus-point and a morale-boosting win in the bag, Carnegie relaxed to let Moseley’s Mike Penn in for a late score.
Yorkshire Carnegie: Georgiou, Doherty, Clarke, Lucock, Holmes, Leonard (Grimoldy 72), Pilgrim (Egerton 52); Harris (Imiolek 52), Walker (Nilsen 60), Tideswell (Hooper 68), Myerscough (Smith 63), Jones, Williams, Walker (Bainbridge 60), Burrows.
Moseley: Carter; Cheshire (Penn 72), Owen, King, Armstrong, Thomas, Brown (Brazier 73), Williams; Caves (Lea 40/Tolmie 73), Voisey, Powell, Charlton (Dacres 61), Mason, Siggery, Brightwell (Gardiner 84).
Referee: D Richards (RFU).