BARKERS BUTTS v LEEK MATCH REPORT (INTERMEDIATE CUP)
The Moorlanders suffered a last play defeat in Coventry as the 2 sides were separated eventually by the odd try in 9 after a great match....
....that pitched 2 teams together for an attacking feast of rugby despite the 1st half drenching and wet field.
The cup always produces some mismatches but this game was the opposite with nothing separating the teams for long periods of the match as mistakes and good play intermingled over the 80 odd minutes.
Leek started with Jack Newton Taylor, Kini Buli and Nick Palmer as the back 3. James Floyd was back in the centre with Sam Hunt and Dan Needham and Ollie Dew were at half back.
Adam Smith’s late arrival at the ground meant Leek pitched D J Allen at hooker with Joe Newton Taylor and Bobby Cheadle propping. Skipper Luke Hardern was back after 3 weeks of injury but he had to play at No. 8 as Joel Booth was unavailable. He was partnered by George Hunt and Jake Bainbridge in the back row. Ben Barlow was returning at lock and shared the engine room with James Thompson.
On the bench, Leek had winger Adam Varley, Tom Fairhurst and Ad Smith.
Early exchanges saw both sides playing with some attacking intention and Leek had a great chance on 7 minutes as the ball sped along the backs with an overlap created on the right for Nick Palmer, but a wayward pass meant the danger passed.
On 14 minutes, an untidy scum from Leek meant a poor ball from Ollie Drew to Dan Needham sped along the ground but the surprise was on the defence as Needham collected the ball superbly and offloaded inside to Nick Palmer. The move wasn’t anticipated by the defence and Palmer went off on a diagonal run past defenders and down the left to the BBs 22 where he outsprinted the full back and scored a great try in the corner. Sam Hunt’s conversion just failed but Leek had been rewarded with their adventurous play. 0-5.
From the kick-off, Leek made a mess of the ball control and it eventually led to 3 penalties, the last for a high tackle on their own 5 metre line as BBs pack scented a score. They opted to scrum and duly dove Leek over their own line for a No.8 try. The conversion was good and BBs led 7-5 on 22 minutes.
Back came Leek and great forward work set up the backs to create an overlap for Nick Palmer to shoot through and score his and Leek’s 2nd try on 27 minutes. The conversion on the right this time just failed but Leek retook the lead at 7-10.
Another 3 minutes and Leek had their 3rd try as the Moorlanders took advantage of the home errors with the wet ball. This time Jack Newton Taylor was worked into a position on the BBs 22 and he sprinted through a tight gap to score by the posts. Sam Hunt converted and at 7-17, this was to be the biggest lead of the day by either side.
On 35 minutes, aerial ping pong was played out as Leek tried to clear the ball but BBs kept kicking back in to the danger zone. After 5 or 6 kicks each, the BBs backs found a hole and worked an overlap on the left for another try on the left. The conversion failed but it was 12-17 as the half entered stoppage time but no further score occurred despite Leek’s Kini Buli getting close after a kick ahead.
The 2nd half opened with Leek running out of defence but another intercept and BBs took the lead as the centre sprinted under the posts for the converted score on 42 minutes. 19-17.
From the kick-off, Jack Newton Taylor’s catch was marred by the BBs prop interference and he was yellow carded.
Leek went for the lineout catch close to the BBs line and then a series of rucks looked certain to produce a try but the defence held and on 51 minutes BBs cleared into Leek’s 22 on the right. BBs won the ball back but knocked on and with advantage played, Leek’s backs took the ball on wide left with Jack Newton Taylor, Ollie Drew and finally Kini Buli for the try of the day. Sam Hunt converted and Leek retook the lead at 19-24 on 53 minutes.
Back came BBs. Nick Palmer was yellow carded for slowing the ball in the Leek 22 after the kick ahead gave the home side a clear opportunity as the BBs yellow carder returned to the game.
Leek repelled the scrum and won it against the head but still the pressure came and only a knock on near Leek’s line prevented a score on 66 minutes. Finally, on 70 minutes, the BBs backs found the space on the right and worked the passes for a good try. The conversion missed but at 24 all with 10 minutes to go, it was anyone’s game.
James Floyd made a 73rd minute break up the right flank and only desperate defence kept Leek out before they were penalised and BBs cleared.
At this point, Leek looked more likely to score and as the clock ticked to 80 minutes they won a penalty on the BBs 22. Sam Hunt duly converted and at 24-27 with only overtime to go, could Leek hold out?
Play was taking place around the 10 metre zones and fizzling out when in the last minute BBs knocked on and Leek had a scrum in the BBs half.
All that was needed was to win the scrum and kick the ball off the field. However, the BBs pack produced a strong scrum and the ball fizzed out on their side. Quick ball blind and the wing combined with the full back to create the overlap and then the inside pass beat the last defender for the 15 to go in under the posts. The conversion was good and the game ended there at 31-27.
For the neutral it had been a great cup game at this level but for the partisans of Leek, it was a bitter ending with their counterparts celebrating a famous win.
Mention must go to Tom Fairhurst who has muscled his way into the 1st team squad and made a big impact coming on in the 2nd half at flanker.
Adam Varley looks a good prospect on the wing and he unluckily took a thumb in the eye after 20 minutes play.
This week, Leek travel to Spartans in the league and will need to be at their best to get anything out of the game. It is usually a tight contest between the sides with Spartans ahead of Leek in the league presently.
Kick-off is at 2.15pm.
Author John McDermott