Physicality, endeavour and a no-fear mentality, all Leeds Carnegie lacked was the victory over undefeated Championship leaders Newcastle Falcons, but at least Diccon Edwards’ men well and truly rubber-stamped their top-four credentials.
this display could well be the catalyst for a late-season surge and should they qualify for the play-offs, Carnegie may well meet the Falcons again in a semi-final at Kingston Park.
And after receiving a 53-10 drubbing in September, Edwards can take solace in their resilient display.
“Individually and collectively we’ve stood up, and we’ve taken the game to Newcastle for the full 80 minutes,” the head coach said.
“Even to be talking about a game which we could have won shows how far we’ve come and the potential within this group.
“Props Ben Harris and Damien Tussac were magnificent in terms of their attitude. What a change of mentality for us that we’ve scrummed Newcastle for a penalty rather than just trying to get the ball out.
“We’ve challenged ourselves to get in the top-four. We want to play Newcastle again and the only way we’re going to do that is to get in those play-offs.”
Otley was the venue for Leeds’ latest excursion away from Headingley Carnegie.
Not many sides have matched the Falcons for physicality this campaign and, although they raced into an early 10-0 lead, Leeds neutralised their opponent’s forward power throughout.
Kiwi stand-off Jimmy Gopperth opened the scoring via a penalty before a knock-on in midfield allowed the top-of-the-table side to counter-attack.
Tom Catterick made a searing break and Ryan Shortland was on-hand to go round the outside of Stevie McColl to touch down.
But Leeds went about their work with huge endeavour and no lack of skill. David Doherty was proving lively down the left-wing while half-backs Craig Hampson – even if his passing at the base was somewhat erratic – and Joe Ford were marshalling their troops effectively.
they deservedly reduced the arrears when a period of pressure forced the Falcons into conceding a penalty and Ford slotted the resultant opportunity.
The stand-off had another chance to reduce the deficit before the interval, but his effort drifted wide of the left-hand upright.
Leeds needed to take the game further to the visitors as they dominated the first 20 minutes of the second half.
Ford continued to eat into the lead with a second three-pointer to take the score to 10-6.
The respective stand-offs traded penalties but, although Leeds pressed for that elusive touchdown which would garner a memorable win, they couldn’t quite break down the Falcons defence.
Leeds: McColl; Georgiou, Goss, Burdon, Doherty; Ford, Hampson; Harris, Nilsen (Freer 60), Tussac (Currie 67); Green, Myerscough; Baldwin, Rowan (capt), Burrows (Moon 70).Subs not used: Imiolek, Smith, Frost, Lucock.
Newcastle: Catterick; Higgins, Crockett, Helleur, Shortland; Gopperth, Lawson; Golding, Vickers (Thompson 62), Tomaszczyk (Hall 62); Hudson, Macleod; Wilson (Hogg 72), Welch (capt) Tu’ifua Subs not used: Goode, Fury, Hodgson, Hufanga.
Referee: Darren Gamage.