Newcastle Falcons stay top of the class by virtue of giving Leeds a lesson in finishing at Kingston Park on Friday night.
This match-up was tipped as the pick of the games this weekend, by virtue of Leeds scoring 50 points against Bristol in round four, but for most of the game Carnegie were forced to defend as the hosts ran out convincing winners.
Leeds were still in touch at the break but couldn’t convert sustained periods of pressure into points. Jonny Golding scored the first after 14 minutes, and local man James Hudson got the second before the interval.
The visitors were out-classed in the second period with tries from Rob Vickers, Jimmy Gopperth (2), Luke Fielden and a penalty try.
Head Coach Dean Richards told the Falcons website: “It has taken a while to come, but the boys are a little bit happier with their performance tonight – the hard work was done in the first-half and the final 10 minutes of the first-half were telling for me.”
He added, “I think tonight is the most clinical that we have been this season.”
A 12-point victory over Rotherham at Brickfields on Friday night put Plymouth into third place in the Championship.
It took a penalty try and the boot of Paul Roberts to make the game safe, but Plymouth won’t fret too much about narrow margins if they keep winning.
They have won four of their five games with an aggregate margin of 19 points, so the floodgates opened, relatively speaking, against the visitors from north Yorkshire. The one that got away was a two-point defeat at the hands of the Pirates on the far side of the Tamar.
Bristol’s miserable season went from bad to worse at the Memorial Stadium on Friday night, losing 21-22 to Moseley. The midlanders had fought back from a 21-5 deficit before Glynn Hughes kicked a penalty at the death to win it for the visitors. Bristol, who were given the run-around at Headingley last week, scored two second half tries through Mitch Eadie and David McIlwaine.
In a game with more cards displayed by referee Mr Ross Campbell than on the racks of WH Smith, Bristol managed to keep more men on the pitch towards the end, but to no avail.
With the hosts leading 6-5 at the break, a game of rugby threatened to break out in the second period, with the impressive Hughes adding a second try to his first half individual effort.
Charlie Hayter finished off a seventy-metre counter-attack, which Hughes converted to put Moseley within two points, before nailing his last minute penalty
to take win it.
Doncaster dropped two points at Castle Park on Friday night, with a last minute moment of madness giving the Pirates an additional ten metres, from which Kieran Hallett obliged from the tee to square the game.
The Knights had looked the better side for most of the match and seemed to have made it safe when Rhys Buckley scored in the 78th minute. Jamie Lennard converted from the touchline to give them a three-point lead with time all but up, but Hallett had the last word to level the scores at 18 all.
London Scottish could only manage three James Love penalties as Nottingham ran in seven tries at Meadow Lane on Friday night. The Green and Whites were rampant in the second half, scoring five tries, as the exiles went down 54-9.
Finally, the only match to be played at the traditional time for rugby: Saturday afternoon, saw Bedford struggle to close out the game against a very competitive Jersey side, at St Peter’s.
The Blues had built up a 29-0 lead before being reduced to 13 men and seeing the Channel Island outfit, who were sniffing their first Championship win, come within ten points.
Bedford had tries from Paul Tupai, Mark Atkinson, Sacha Harding and a penalty try, plus three conversions and a penalty from James Pritchard on the board, before the hosts opened their account.
But despite a valiant fight back by Jersey, Bedford held on to a 29-19 margin to take five points and remain within two of the Falcons.
All this action leaves the Championship looking like this: