Glyn Hughes put team goals over his own personal accolades on Sunday to help keep Leeds Carnegie’s Premiership dream alive.
The Carnegie fly-half had just booted Leeds into a first-leg advantage with seven penalties and two conversions to their brace of first-half tries.
But when a perfect 10 out of 10 was presented to him with a kickable penalty from in front of the posts seconds from the final whistle, selfless Hughes ceded responsibility to team-mate Alex Lozowski.
“It would have been nice to get the 10th one,” he admitted, “but I cramped up late on when I kicked the ball out on the full which presented Welsh with a penalty and cost us three points, which hopefully won’t cost us.
“I’ve suffered from cramp at the end of games all through my youth.
“I felt my calf go again, but fortunately Alex was on the pitch and I just said to him ‘I’m going to be a liability here so you take it’.
“He’s a good kicker in his own right, and I had no hesitation in giving him the reins.
“If I’d have missed it because of the cramp and we’d have spurned those three points, I’d have been kicking myself so it was the right thing to do.”
Hughes was voted man of the match by broadcasters Sky Television for one of his most complete performances in a Carnegie shirt. It was his nine nerveless kicks that stole the headlines but perhaps taking himself out of the firing line at the death to ensure another three points were added to the tally will prove his most telling contribution in the final analysis of this compelling tie.
Certainly Hughes and his team-mates felt a seven-point advantage to take to the Kassam Stadium in Oxford next Sunday was the least they deserved from a game they controlled.
“We came away with mixed emotions,” said the 22-year-old summer signing from Moseley.
“Unless it was going to be an absolute thumping we always knew it was going to be close, that’s the nature of a two-legged affair.
“I’m sure next week will be close again, but there are definitely mixed emotions because we felt we were seven points better than them.
“We’re halfway there and we did what we set out to do, win the game, but the focus moves quickly onto next week.
“We’d have liked more points to show for our control but in the league we lost to them twice so at least we’ve shown we can compete with them and beat them.
“So there’s positives, but the overriding emotion was we could have had more.”
Hughes’ verdict contrasts sharply with Andy Awford, the Welsh replacement back who scored tries either side of half-time to keep Exiles in the contest.
“The boys all know they underperformed and in this league you can’t underperform,” said Awford after Welsh suffered their first defeat of the season to James Lowes’ side.
“If you’re looking to get into the Premiership you can’t put in a performance like that – it’s got to be better.
“Headingley is a difficult place to come but we’ve done a job up here before in similar respects – we were down but regrouped. Unfortunately it didn’t happen on Sunday. We’re disappointed with the way we conceded penalties, but we’ll regroup and head back to the Kassam and put in a better performance. It’s all to play for at home.”
Next Sunday’s game is the second instalment of what could potentially be a major period in the history of Leeds Carnegie.
The club that will become known as Yorkshire Carnegie from next season are chasing promotion and British and Irish Cup glory.
“This is an exciting time as a player, the kind of period where you want to be involved and playing well,” said Hughes, who travels with his team-mates to Dublin on Friday week to take on Leinster A in the B&I Cup final.
“It’s exciting but we cannot look beyond the next week and then the week after that ... and hopefully then, the two weeks after that.”