National League One
Leeds Carnegie seize control
September 29, 2008
USA prop Mike McDonald was Leeds' unlikely try-scoring hero © Getty Images
Leeds Carnegie were the big winners following the latest round of National League One action.
Neil Back's side ran out comfortable 57-0 winners over Manchester at Headingley while Bedford, their closest rivals at the top of the table, fell to their first defeat of the season away to Exeter. Leeds included Henry Paul in their young side for the clash with Manchester, the former England centre returning to union after playing rugby league for Harlequins during the past two seasons.
Paul was eased back into action in a nine-try rout, with USA prop Mike McDonald contributing a brace and flanker Hendre Fourie continuing his excellent form with a sixth score in five matches. Back's nine changes gave plenty of young Leeds talent a run out against a committed effort from recently promoted Manchester, boding well for their future development.
While Leeds were running riot at home, Bedford saw a penalty in the eighth minute of injury time end their unbeaten start to the season. Exeter's Gareth Steenson won a pulsating match 26-23 for his side to continue their good run of form.
Bedford had stolen an early advantage with two tries from former Bath Academy player Ian Davey before a try from Josh Drauniniu and Steenson's metronomic boot dragged Exeter back into the contest. Bedford now sit four points behind Leeds at the top, while Exeter sit a point behind in fourth.
Rotherham notched their first win of the season with a resounding 59-32 scoreline against Esher at Moseley Road. Former Doncaster centre Brad Hunt weighed in with a hat-trick for the Titans, who accelerated away from an 18-6 half time lead to claim maximum points.
Nottingham stay third in the table following a good win over Cornish Pirates. Three tries for Pirates' Marika Vakacegu were not enough to swing the game in the home side's favour, and Nottingham were able to hang on to the points.
Doncaster move up to fifth following a 37-9 home win over struggling Newbury. Doncaster were made to wait until the 25th minute for Bryn Griffiths' opening score and despite registering their first win of the season last weekend, Newbury were unable to halt the Doncaster charge.
London Welsh edged out Plymouth 25-24 to sit sixth overall. Welsh raced to a 19-0 lead after only half an hour before a spirited fight back from the home side. Tries from Tom Brown, hooker Sunia Koto-Vuli and a penalty try in the first half proved too much of an advantage for the visitors and Plymouth slumped to their first home defeat of the season.
Struggling Coventry continued to fight on the field with a 30-27 win over Sedgley Park. In a game dominated by the boots of Ronnie Mclean and Matt Riley it was a try four minutes into added time for Coventry scrum-half Tom Slater that settled the outcome. Moseley notched their third win of the season with a 36-26 win over struggling Otley. The Birmingham side now sit sixth in the table, while Otley are second from bottom having not yet registered a win.