Excellent game against Stoke
Stoke 12 v Leek 33
Leek ended up winners, but made hard work of it against a game Stoke team.
A dominant second half display saw the Tigers win by five tries to two, having controlled possession and territory throughout.
But a stream of unforced errors, poor execution and ill-discipline took some of the shine off the victory.
The Moorlanders' dominant pack drove their opponents backwards in each of the first four set-pieces before an injury to the Stoke loosehead meant uncontested scrums for the rest of the game, depriving Leek of one of their key weapons.
The Tigers opened the scoring after nine minutes, Joe Byrne's inside break setting up Tom Rigby for an incisive run to ten metres from the tryline. Quick phases saw the forwards close in and Marcus Dawson drove over from two metres out, Byrne converting (0-7).
Selfish play from several Leek players meant they failed to add to the score for the rest of the half, with overlaps ignored and isolated runs leading to turnovers.
The lineout was again misfiring, they gave away penalties for offside and high tackles, and were marched back three times for backchat.
Stoke took heart from the Tigers' profligacy and scored in the corner after several phases to make it 5-7 at half-time.
A back-to-basics approach saw Leek using their power runners, drives from Ollie Powell and Matt Beardmore securing great field position. A rushed clearance fell to wing James Hunt, who sprinted clear of the cover from 20 metres to bag the opening score of the second period (5-12).
Forward power kept the hosts on the back foot, opening space for Charlie Breen to scamper through untouched from 20 metres out, Byrne converting (5-19).
A Keystone Cops moment then saw Hunt and Rigby collide trying to field a high kick, the ball bouncing over the tryline for the Stoke right wing to gratefully touch down (12-19).
But the Tigers' were in the ascendancy, and their controlled running game finally broke the Stoke resistance, Oliver Corden crossing after further strong phase play from the pack (Byrne conversion - 12-26).
A loose kick and a knock-on then presented the ball to Powell, who threw in a sidestep and swerve in his run to the posts, Byrne again converting (12-33).