National One: MOSELEY 26 LEEDS CARNEGIE 31
The Law of Sod extended its jurisdiction to Billesley Common on Saturday as Moseley put in yet another outstanding effort against one of the division’s heavyweights, only to find their relegation rivals had equalled and even bettered their points haul.
While Esher, Coventry and Rotherham put clear blue water between themselves and Ian Smith’s men, even the other target team – Plymouth Albion – managed to pick up two losing bonus points despite defeat at the Pillar Data Arena.
Everything is pointing towards a decisive showdown between Moseley and the Devonians in the last week of April. Assuming, of course the form book is any sort of guide and that Mose do not beat Bedford but do triumph over Manchester.
It’s always difficult to know if Moseley have even heard of the form book. While they have been known to falter against National One’s less illustrious lights, they are also building a reputation as king makers and throne takers.
Last time they played on the Common they extinguished Exeter’s league and cup dreams and they nearly upset the Leeds applecart too.
Trailing 21-0 and seemingly dead and buried they managed to pressurise their way back into this match with some committed counter-rucking and incisive play from replacement Henry Trinder.
The Kingsholm starlet scorched his way to two tries, Tristan Roberts grabbed another and with proceedings entering their last minute the hosts trailed by just two points.
Indeed Ian Smith felt had they not wasted so much time in the third-quarter trying to push the league leaders’ pack over its own line, they might have had even more.
One had to feel for wings Nathan Bressington and Dan Norton who have the quality to make a difference on occasions such as these but were inexplicably not given the opportunity.
Particularly Bressington, the former Bees and Stourbridge man found work particularly hard to come by on Saturday. Norton, at least, can claim a fortuitously awarded try and what might be the tackle of the season as he rolled Johnny Hepworth on to his back in the act of scoring.
And while they might not have got the win, if nothing else Moseley showed they will fight for their First Division status.
Realistically they need three wins from their last five league fixtures and one of those must come against Plymouth.
They also have the cup final to play on Saturday week, the Law of Sod demands it’s Leeds they must overcome if they are to claim a first Twickenham victory.
Intriguingly Smith thinks events here will have played their part in shaping events at HQ.
“If we had lost heavily here the mental advantage might have gone a little bit our way,” he said.
“They would have taken us lightly in the final. But now they think our boys can test them and as a result they are going to be on the ball.
“They’ll be no surprising them.”
Leaving the reverse psychology to the professionals the only way Mose will get routed at Twickers is if they fail to contest the breakdown as they did for 30 minutes last weekend.
That allowed Leeds to build a three-try lead through Rhys Oakley and the Jons Pendlebury and Goodridge. There could be no quibbling about the former but there was a feeling among the hosts that the former knocked on and the latter was the beneficiary of a block on Andy Reay.
That is not to say Norton got any where near to grounding the ball after he broke away and kicked round the last defender.
Nevertheless the score was awarded and the comeback was on.
It could have done without failure to reclaim the opening kick off of the second period. That gave Neil Back’s champions elect the scrum from which Oakley made Neil Mason pay for deserting his flank.
But from then it was all Moseley. With Tristan Roberts using the wind and slope to his advantage his team spent most of the half in enemy territory.
He slipped his way through on 46 minutes after a half break by Reay and with 12 to go Trinder sliced clear from 40m.
The mercurial centre then finished off a splendid drive by his pack only for Moseley to come up short at the end.
Another subsection of the Law of Sod says that when you try to chase the game you allow your opponents back into it.
The hosts did just that as they tried to counter attack from deep and an isolated Reay was forced to hold on. Alberto Di Bernardo made him pay and made sure Moseley didn’t stun the division for a second time in a fortnight.
MOSELEY: Binns (Thomas, 73); Bressington, Adams (Trinder, 42), Reay, Norton; Roberts, Taylor; N Williams, Caves, Sigley (Davis, 70); Muldowney, Stott (Arnold, 51), Mason, Bignell (Whitney, 70), D Williams. Replacements: Oselton, Vasey.
LEEDS: Hinton (Biggs, 70); Goodridge, Hepworth, Barrow, Blackett; Di Bernardo, Mathie; Macdonald, Ma’asi, Gomez (Pala’amu, 50), Murphy, Pendlebury, Dunbar, Clark (Davidson, 50), Oakley (D Paul, 50). Replacements: Rawlinson, White, H Paul.
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth (RFU).