If taking on the lavishly bankrolled champions elect on their own patch without two key forwards isn’t difficult enough, the loss of a third usually is.
Leeds, weighed down by their generous parachute payment – if that’s not a contradiction in terms – were always going to beat Moseley, particularly when the visitors were forced to start the game without loosehead Nathan Williams and No.8 James Rodwell.
But to lose erstwhile captain – and ball carrying heart-beat – Neil Mason to the most undeserved of red cards with more than half an hour to play was just too much to bear.
To say the Billesley Common outfit were disappointed with referee Mark Wilson’s decision to send Mason from the field is the very definition of understatement.
The talismanic flanker looked nonplussed when he took a ‘team’ yellow card in the first half for infringing at a ruck. He might easily have pointed at the host’s string of misdemeanours.
Yet he appeared utterly gob-smacked when Wilson interpreted a genuine challenge for the ball as taking out an airborne opponent. It would have been a harsh decision even in the shiny shirt code.
As a result Mose were forced to play a man light for 45 minutes and so to have left Headingley with their dignity intact was something of an achievement in itself.
However, as many National One sides have found this year, while Leeds do not have the ferocious pack of many teams relegated from the Premiership, they are extremely incisive in the backs.
With Alberto Di Bernardo and Henry Paul pulling the strings in midfield strike runners like Richard Welding, Johnny Hepworth and the magnificent Jon Goodridge were able to run free as the Yorkshireman wracked up eight tries in total – four for Goodridge. Moseley have history with Goodridge.
Not only did he score twice for local rivals Birmingham & Solihull when he was on loan at Sharmans Cross Road in September 2006, he was also the one player Mose wanted to borrow from the Kingsholm warehouse when they were sorting out their player sharing agreement with Gloucester in the summer of 2007.
Despite indications to the contrary Goodridge didn’t come, instead he was off-loaded to Leeds and he was once again tormentor-in-chief with his searing pace and outstanding support lines. He grabbed the game’s first try after seven minutes – by which time Di Bernardo had already kicked the first three of his 23 points, with in impudent score that owed as much to the visitors’ errors as any real attacking ingenuity.
Moseley put themselves under pressure when Charlie Sharples needlessly nudged a bouncing ball into touch just five metres from his own line. Goodridge scooted up to take a short lineout to Erik Lund who immediately returned the ball for his full-back to stroll over. Di Bernardo’s conversion made it 10-0 and the writing was already on the wall in letters 10ft high.
He scored again after 18 minutes and Di Bernardo and Blackett secured the try bonus by half time. All Moseley had was two Ollie Thomas penalties and a 29-6 interval deficit.
The hat-trick came two minutes after the restart, although Mose briefly fizzled when Nathan Bressington intercepted Hepworth’s pass and raced 60 metres unhindered.