A dramatic last-minute try from Joel Hodgson earned Yorkshire Carnegie a victory that not only secured them a spot in the end-of-season play-offs but also demonstrated their ability to close out a game under pressure.
Carnegie had fallen behind in the dying moments when Ryan Hodson crossed and Olly Barkley converted to make it 28-24.
But amid the Welsh celebrations, Carnegie patiently kept the ball alive through 20 phases before Hodgson crashed over after Pete Lucock had initially been held up.
But despite the excitement and the first objective of the season being achieved, head coach Bryan Redpath and his team remained grounded.
“We spoke about it before the game and it’s another box ticked,” was captain Ryan Burrows’s assessment.
“Results are everything at this stage of the season, it’s five points away from home, another win and momentum is on our side.”
Redpath himself was equally pragmatic.
He said: “It’s massive for us, it’s really important we keep that focus, because it’s a tough time of year with contracts and people in and out.”
The calmness exuded by the Carnegie players and coaching staff says everything about their drive; that they know the job is only half done and there remains four games, potentially, for them to negotiate if they are to reach the Premiership.
They also know it is a team that is far from the finished article.
“We’re disappointed with our performance,” said Burrows.
“We were sloppy in the first half, and at times second half we shot ourselves in the foot but it shows how far we’ve come as a team to beat a good Welsh team in the last minute.
“When they scored their last try it took a bit of momentum out of us, so we had to find some from somewhere.
“Credit to each and everyone of the travelling squad.
“We’ve dug in and got the try bonus to secure our place in the top four, which was the aim.”
Redpath added: “We showed a lot of character in the last 10 minutes. I thought our middle part of the game was very poor, but credit to the lads, they had to go out and win the game, and credit to the subs who came on.
“If you play for 80 minutes you’re always in a game. We’ve been at the wrong end of some tight results this season and today we’re at the right end.
“We’re improving in that element. We’re able to score and when we play with a high tempo we’re a dangerous side.
“Our phase play with the forwards is improving, so there’s lots of plusses but we need to sharpen up our all-round game.”
Burrows crossed for Carnegie’s opening score early on, which Kevin Sinfield converted, but when they found themselves 21-7 down the game could easily have slipped away from them.
Their first try came when hooker Koree Britton bumped out of the initial tackle on the line before stretching out to score.
Nathan Trevett and then Olly Barkley crossed to put Welsh into a commanding position going into the break, despite David Doherty and Oli Goss both seeing chances to cross the whitewash fritter away.
Doherty then crossed for his 49th try in the many colours of Carnegie, leaving him three shy of record-holder Tom Biggs.
With Hodson and Josh McNally in the sin-bin for Welsh, Carnegie capitalised with a penalty try and then a fine team score finished off by Pete Lucock.
“When they were down to 13 we spoke about it before the scrum, we needed to up the tempo,” said Burrows.
“I just gave it to the Doc (David Doherty) and away he went.
“The hard work was done by me and Doc but Pete had some work to do.”
Then came the late drama, Hodson being forced over for Welsh as they retook the lead with a Barkley conversion, before Hodgson finished off Carnegie’s measured persistance with a try and a penalty.
“We’re back into the cup competition next week and we can look forward to that,” said Burrows, ahead of Yorkshire’s B&I Cup final date with Jersey next Sunday. “It’s a chance to show what we’re capable of and keep the momentum going.”
London Welsh: Carlisle, J. Lewis, Reynolds, Armitage, Drauniniu, Barkley, Glynn, Trevett, Britton, Cooper, McNally, West, Skuse, Hodson, Murphy. Replacements: Morris, Marfo, Gilding, Corker, Ovens, R. Lewis, Elder.
Yorkshire Carnegie: Prell, Goss, Lucock, Casson, Doherty, Sinfield, Pilgrim, Imiolek, Nilsen, O’Donnell, Schofield, Myerscough, Jones, Saull, Burrows. Replacements: Graham, Beech, Tideswell, Smith, C. Walker, Hodgson, Wright.