Lay’s Late Score Secures Crucial Win for Walsall
Walsall 24 Leek 21
This was a game that produced a lot of good quality rugby between two teams who were relegated from Midlands One West last season. The lead had changed seven times before Walsall’s winger Jordan Lay raced over for what proved to be the winning score four minutes before the final whistle. The hosts created some early pressure, but it was Leek that scored first after their first foray into opposition territory. Mc Dermott putting over a fairly easy penalty after both teams were penalised around the tackle area. Walsall equalised immediately with Mitch Carless putting over a good thirty five meter penalty. It was not long before another penalty at the breakdown saw McDermott give his team the lead once more. The hosts scored the first try of the game after No8 Rod Dickson had turned over possession and made a good run before finding flanker Connor McGuirk in support. Some quick passing gave centre Andy Taylor the space to run through to score his first try for his new club. Carless added a good conversion from a difficult angle. Just before half time, the visitors had one of their best period of play as they dominated possession for long periods and made several strong drives with flanker Drew eventually going over near the corner flag. There was still time for the restart and on this occasion, it was Walsall’s Jeffrey Williamson that chased and caught the kick and from the ensuing breakdown Leek were penalised. Carless put over another very good kick to give his team a two point interval lead. Walsall started the second half strongly and a Hickman run took play close to the opposition line, but poor passing resulted in a try scoring opportunity being missed. They did however increase their advantage with another Carless penalty. The visitors put more urgency into their game and were quick to move the ball at every opportunity. A penalty was passed wide and winger Leadingham did well to hold off tacklers before popping the ball to No8 Booth to crash over. McDermott then put his team back in front with an excellent touchline conversion. Eight minutes later it was Carless that was displaying his place kicking skills with a forty five meter penalty kick to make it 19 – 18. However, another McDermott penalty after the restart restored the Leek lead. The visitors had another good period of play. But on this occasion the Walsall defence worked hard with Williamson and Ethan Walker making try saving tackles. Jordan Lay relived the pressure with a superb fifty meter kick that took play deep into the Leek half. The hosts pressed hard for a score and a superb Rob Angell break was stopped inches short of the try line. But good drives and two accurate passes gave Lay the room to sprint over for the try from twenty meters. Walsall had more good attacking positions, but they were made to do some desperate defending for several minutes before the sound of the final whistle. This win keeps Walsall in second spot in the league, but they will be concerned with having more injury problems after this recent encounter.