LEEK v WALSALL MATCH REPORT
Leek won a hard fought and close affair with Staffordshire rivals, Walsall on Saturday, with both teams playing open rugby despite the foul conditions at EsterChem Park.
Sam Hunt, Will Graham and Matt Leadingham were the back 3 with George Hunt and Nick Palmer in the centres and Gary McDermott and Ollie Drew at half back.
Bobby and Ed Cheadle with Adam Smith made up the front row and skipper Luke Hardern and Ben Barlow continued their partnership at lock.
Andy Thompson started at open side with Joel Booth and Luke Staton making up the backrow.
Leek welcomed back Dan Needham on the bench with Jack Conlon and Leek debutant Jake Bainbridge, son of former Leek player Tim.
The heavens were open as the teams, who had endured a heavy downpour throughout the warm up, started the game with Leek getting an early chance to exert pressure on the Walsall line
after being awarded a first minute penalty and the kick for the lineout produced a catch and drive. Walsall’s forwards effectively stopped the drive and then won a penalty themselves for holding on
after good defensive work near their own line.
It was all Leek in the opening 10 minutes and the home side was duly rewarded when great handling and retention by the forwards in the Walsall 22 then allowed Gary McDermott to make a break to
the 5 metre line. He offloaded to Ollie Dew in the tackle and the scrum half sprinted over under the posts.
McDermott converted and Leek led 7-0.
The next 10 minutes were also dominated by Leek but Walsall’s solid and disciplined defence denied the Moorlanders another score. Then the momentum changed as Walsall won a penalty for offside and a kick for the lineout in Leek’s 22 led to a catch and drive which Leek’s forwards couldn’t stop and the ty was scored in the left corner. The difficult conversion was missed but at 7-5 on 26 minutes, it was becoming a fascinating game.
The only other chance for the remainder of the half fell to Leek on 33 minutes after a well worked move led to a kick through but the ball was well shepherded behind the dead ball line.
Unfortunately the half ended after only 34 minutes on the running clock but was made up at the end of the 2nd half where the teams played 50 minutes.
Half Time 7-5.
It was now becoming clear that this was going to be a low scoring match and credit to all players for the way they tried to play but only one further score was to be seen by the hardy band of loyal supports of both sides.
It was a penalty on 47 minutes when a Walsall back was penalised for not releasing at the tackle and Gary McDermott increased Leek’s lead to 10-5.
Leek was mainly in control of the match with sporadic Walsall possession being generally well defended although a 57th minute Walsall lineout in Leek’s 22 could have been dangerous but there was a knock on which Leek then used to clear.
The final 10 minutes saw first Leek miss a penalty and then, under pressure as the game entered the last play, Walsall mount a tremendous counter attach down the right wing before a final forward pass ended the game in midfield.
Walsall deserved a losing bonus point and Leek will have been pleased to win at home again.
The win sees Leek move into 3rd place on 11 points behind Whitchurch on 14 and Spartans on 13 points.
This Saturday, the Moorlanders travel to Dronfield to play in the 2nd round of the RFU Intermediate Cup. KO is 3pm.
Then on Saturday, 14th October, Leek travel to Cleobury Mortimer for a league fixture against the side promoted from 3 West (N) last season.
Invites have been sent to all who we have contact details for. The date is Saturday November 11th 2017, we will be meeting at the clubhouse at 12 midday for the usual lunch prior to watching the 1st XV take on Whitchurch. Those former captains wishing to attend should reply to Phil Bebington, contact details are on the invites.