London Welsh overturned a 12-point deficit against Leeds Carnegie to make it six wins from six and go back to the top of the Greene King IPA Championship table.
The Exiles dominated the first half with Nathan Trevett and Nick Scott touching down, but frustratingly only led by two points at the break as Fred Burdon went over for the home side on the stroke of half-time.
When Leeds struck twice in the opening nine minutes of the second half, through Calum Green and a penalty try, Welsh’s 100 per cent record looked in serious danger, but the Exiles responded with character similar to that which they’d displayed at Rotherham Titans.
Scott went over for his second of the game and Alex Davies kicked 14 points, as victory was prized away from the home side.
The win keeps Welsh’s 100 per cent record in tact and sets up a mouth-watering clash with second placed Bristol at the Kassam Stadium next Sunday (November 10).
Welsh didn’t make the start they wanted. Alex Lozowski’s kick-off wasn’t dealt with and Seb Stegmann had to go back and tidy up. Gordon Ross found touch but the home side were awarded a penalty which Lozowski despatched.
Welsh would dominate the remainder of the half territorially, but they would have to be patient and bide their time for the openings to appear, in the face of some spirited Leeds defence.
Gordon Ross went into the game on the back of 33 consecutive kicks at goal and needing just three more to set a new record, but the Welsh fly half was off target with his first two attempts before later passing the baton to Davies.
Leeds were enjoying success in the scrum, but Welsh were disrupting their lineout ball to good effect. Play was confined to the Leeds half, but the Exiles were finding the home side’s defence hard to penetrate.
Instead Welsh kept going through the phases, probing for a weakness. Patience was the key word for the Exiles, in the expectation that the home side’s rapidly rising tackle count would eventually take its toll.
It finally did when Trevett went over. Welsh pinched Leeds lineout ball and Tom May kicked ahead, with the Welsh captain then well placed to collect and take a quick lineout when Leeds cleared.
Lees crashed up the middle and Welsh had men on the left. Titterrell played fly half with Edwards delivering the scoring pass for Trevett. Titterrell to Edwards to Trevett – definitely one for the front row union. Davies, taking over the kicking duties from Ross, couldn’t add the extras.
But finally Welsh were starting to get some joy as the cracks slowly begin to appear in the Leeds defence. Davies took a quick tap penalty and Welsh got their reward when Daniel Browne and Seb Jewell combined to send Scott over. Davies converted.
Having exercised such control, Welsh allowed the closing moments of the half to become open, and Leeds took advantage. Burrows stormed through a gap and the number eight was hauled down by Scott at the foot of the post. No try was given, but Burdon picked up and went over from close range
Lozowski added the conversion and the sides disappeared back to their dressing rooms with Welsh no doubt wondering how they led by just two points.
Burrows started the second half in the same vein as he’d ended the first, with another strong carry to set up Leeds’ second try. The impressive Craig Hampson found a gap in the Welsh defensive line and he had Green in support, and the second row went over. Lozowski converted.
Seven minutes later the home side were in again, and once again Hampson was heavily involved. The scrum halves break and kick ahead led to a lineout five metres from the Welsh line. Lozowski darted for the line only to be held up, but the home side were awarded a penalty try from the resulting scrum.
Lozowski’s conversion saw Leeds open up a 24-12 lead, and leave Welsh facing the sternest examination of their 100 per cent record, and their title credentials.
Without a hint of panic, though, Welsh systematically set about reeling Leeds in, beginning with a Davies penalty after Leeds infringed at a lineout.
Having sured up their defence and got to grips with Leeds in the scrum, Welsh cranked up the intensity. The Exiles forwards pounded away at the Leeds line before Ross’s flat pass found Scott on a great line and the winger burst through for his second try. Davies converted and the gap was down to just two points.
Welsh were now firmly back in control. Rob Lewis’s kick into space kept Leeds firmly on the back foot. Lozowski found touch but Leeds were penalised at the resulting lineout and Davies stepped up to kick Welsh back into the lead.
A charge down saw Welsh immediately under pressure inside their own 22, but the Exiles pack chose now to win one against the head. Welsh went straight down the other end and Davies landed his third penalty, but he would save his best for last – a sweet strike from just inside the Leeds half to ensure Welsh will take will welcome Bristol to the Kassam next Sunday with their 100 per cent record in tact.
Leeds Carnegie scorers:
Tries: Burdon, Green, Penalty Try; Cons: Lozowski (3); Pens: Lozowski.
London Welsh scorers:
Tries: Scott (2), Trevett: Cons: Davies (2); Pens: Davies (4).
Referee: Steve Lee
Referee Assistants: Llyr Ap Geraint Roberts & Dino Maddern