A dramatic last-minute try from Joel Hodgson earned Yorkshire Carnegie a 31-28 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’ 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.”
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. Reps: 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. Reps: Graham, Beech, Tideswell, Smith, C. Walker, Hodgson, Wright.