Halifax 9 Moseley 22

The corks popped, as predicted, but it wasn't champagne rugby that flowed at Ovenden Park. Instead, it was a rather less refined tipple, a full-bodied brute of a drink that nevertheless made Moseley's heads spin at the thought of life back in the first division.

For 'tis where they will play their league rugby next season; after three years in National Two, they have rebounded in spectacular fashion by winning 21 of their 23 matches in a hugely successful campaign and, in the process, confirmed themselves as the best team at their level.

For the purposes of symbolism, it might have been nice to have hammered the final nail into the ladder at their new home on Billesley Common - so worrying have their off-field troubles been.

But from a playing point of view, despite pre-match suggestions to the contrary from a certain Birmingham-based media outlet, Halifax was a perfectly appropriate location to secure elevation.

For the Moseley of 2005-06, the first side in the club's history to gain promotion, will not be remembered as the adventurous counterpunchers of last year but as an altogether more pragmatic unit.

In this respect at least, such a sturdy victory achieved through the dominance of their forwards provides a wonderfully apt footnote to their entire campaign.

With the rain lashing down, an unplayable pitch, driving wind and an at-times unreadable referee, this fixture had both banana skin and mudbath written all over it.

Their response was commendable, probably that of champions. Even though the conditions played into their hosts' hands, Moseley unleashed their forwards to remarkable effect.

The visiting pack produced two tries through driven line-outs, both for hooker Adam Caves, bringing his personal haul to four in two games, while they ran straight through the Halifax midfield with savage brutality.

One such occasion provided the highpoint of another man-of-the-match display from talismanic flanker Neil Mason, whose 25th-minute barge to the posts saw him simply walk through two attempted tackles.

In the first half at least, the Moseley octet reigned supreme, marching their opponents backwards quicker than should have been possible in such a swamp. They had looked at the conditions and tapered their gameplan accordingly.

Halifax were helpless to resist their opening assault; it was one-dimensional but effective since this was no day for mispasses. Caves benefited from his pack's shove over the line to open the scoring after six minutes.

One local, presumably so disillusioned he wasn't getting full value for money out of the all-singing, all-dancing league leaders, even whinged: "You won't get very far in National One playing like that."

Perhaps not, but they wouldn't have got anywhere on Saturday trying to play any other way.

The ability to do so is the biggest single difference to the Moseley team that finished third last year. As skip-per Gareth Taylor noted afterwards, they don't win by 38-0 or 40-0 as often as they used to, but neither do they lose games they should win.

They are, in short, a much more balanced outfit as demonstrated by Caves' brace and a well-worked try for wing

Carl Colvin as the first period came to an end. That can also be seen in the fact that, for once, this result was not underpinned by the place-kicking of Ollie Thomas, who was back in the side for this game after watching Greg Macdonald orchestrate last week's slaughter of Orrell.

Thomas had a quiet afternoon, landing just one of five attempts, the conversion of Mason's score, but kicked from hand sufficiently well to exert a positional tourniquet on the home side.

Particularly in the second half, when the visitors lacked rhythm, they still managed to stop Halifax from generating any of their own. Even when Caves had scored their final try with a couple of minutes remaining, Taylor was exhorting his troops to concentrate their minds defensively.

And when Greg Garner blew his whistle for the last time, there was relief more than elation. Moseley knew they had been promoted, Esher's loss at home to Waterloo saw to that, but a combination of tiredness and the desire to finish as champions stymied any spontaneous outpouring of joy.

There was pride in abundance, though, while Taylor was full of praise for the substance of the display, if not the style: "We knew what kind of game they played, we knew what kind of pitch it was and we knew what the wind was going to do," he said. "To come away with a bonus point, as well as the win, is a real achievement."

With three games remaining, Moseley are in National One and perhaps the champagne rugby is on ice.