UNLIKELY hero Ben West scored a hat-trick in the final 19 minutes as Yorkshire Carnegie got back onto the winning trail at last and also secured their Championship play-off semi-final place.
The second-row, who joined from crisis-torn London Welsh before Christmas, scored his first try for the club just after the hour against bottom-placed Richmond.
However, by the end of a one-sided game, he had trebled that number as Bryan Redpath’s side eased to a first victory in six games and confirmed a top-four finish.
Having lost five matches on the bounce, Redpath admitted it was a relief finally to find some form.
“It was great to get back to winning ways,” he said, having seen Carnegie romp home after leading 21-3 at the break.
“We have had five tough games and come out on the wrong end of them.
“Today against Richmond we had a lot of opportunities and we took some of them near the end.
“Certainly the first half we said there were far too many errors but we’re delighted we are back on track and with five points, too.”
The margin of victory could have been greater but Joe Ford missed all four of his second-half conversion attempts.
Ryan Burrows, Max Wright –the England Under 20s centre drafted into the starting line-up after an injury to Tom Casson –and Jonah Holmes crossed in the first half when Carnegie also had to contend with losing Mike Myerscough to a head injury after just seven minutes.
On Wright, Redpath admitted: “He was good. He’s been away with the 20s and done well with them winning a Grand Slam.
“We had injuries with Cas and Pete (Lucock) while Alex Gray has left and moved onto other challenges so young Max got a chance.
“That’s good for him and he got on the scoresheet was well.
“Overall, our urgency and discipline in defence was very good and it shows if you work hard for each other it’s not always how fancy it is, it’s more just that effort and urgency.”
West, 25, got his second try just a minute after his first, collecting a grubber kick before completing his hat-trick in the 80th after Harlequins-bound Lewis Boyce had also crossed.
Carnegie lost replacement hooker Richard Mayhew and prop Matt Beesley to second-half injuries, too, although they will hope to be fit for their next match at Bedford Blues a week on Saturday.
The win will have improved confidence and Redpath admitted: “It’s important we get some consistency.
“We’ve not found our straps yet and sometimes losing tight games doesn’t allow you to do that.
“Today we didn’t execute everything but we scored seven tries and now we can crack on for Bedford.
“We’ll try execute some core stuff there but winning’s a habit and today we got that.”
After Bedford, Carnegie host third-placed Ealing Trailfinders – who they lead by 10 points – in their final regular fixture but they need just a solitary point against the Blues to secure second spot.
Yorkshire Carnegie: Elder, Holmes, Forsyth, Wright, Arscott, Ford, Davies, Boyce, Nilsen, Faletau, Myerscough, West, Stedman, R. Mayhew, Burrows. Replacements: M. Mayhew, Beesley, Cusack, Smith, Beck, Green, Seals.
Richmond: Simpson-Hefft, Cheeseman, Woodward, Mclean-Dents, Chisholm, Damant, Uren, Walford, Grimstone, Harden, Hotson, Corker, A. Peters, Allcock, C. Davies. Replacements: Townsend, Tarrant, Warden, Stuart, Quarendon, Sargeant, Goodrick-Clarke.