Leek Prevail in Crucial Clash
Leek 21 Walsall 13
This proved to be a well contested match between two very committed teams. Eventually the North Staffordshire team gained their revenge for an early season defeat at Delves Road. As they secured the win that sees them maintain their promotion hopes and push their visitors further away from the top two league positions. Both sets of players showed good skills in attack and defence with good handling being displayed despite the muddy conditions. The first quarter was scoreless with both defences holding firm. The first score came after the hosts secured a lineout position close to the Walsall line. Two lineout drives were repelled by the visitors with them also having to endure some rather questionable rucking techniques. Despite their commendable efforts, they were penalised on both occasions. Surprisingly, a yellow card was shown to lock forward Woodward. Leek soon used their numerical supremacy to good effect as prop forward Smith was driven over for the try. The Walsall players, showed good character and made an immediate response. Robinson took the lineout ball, scrum half Pittaway made a good break, linked up with No8 Hickman who was brought down close to the Leek twenty-two. This time, it was the visitors that were awarded the penalty which Weston put over from thirty meters. The visitors tried to create some momentum and both Walker and Williamson made good attacking runs. Unfortunately, an injury to full back Crowhurst forced Walsall to reshuffle their back division. During the final seven minutes of the half the hosts were again awarded another couple of penalties which Gary McDermott converted to give his team a 11 – 3 advantage at half – time.
The visitors produced some enterprising play early in the second half and eventually were awarded a penalty after Robinson, Weaver and Hickman had made good defence breaking ball carries. Weston put over the thirty-five-meter kick to reduce the deficit. Unfortunately, the restart kick was not collected and the visitors were soon having to defend desperately. It was not long before they were penalised at the breakdown and McDermott added to his personal tally with a thirty meter kick. The crucial score came with only six minutes left to play. Once again, the Leek lineout supplied the possession and after several drives and short passes, flanker Milner went over for the try which McDermott converted. The final minutes saw Walsall play their best rugby as they ran and supported well and made several drives towards their opponents tryline. The hosts were penalised on at least three occasions, but surprisingly, on this occasion, no yellow cards were issued! Eventually it was young flanker Tom Thorley that crashed through the Leek defence for a score which Weston converted. Weston put over the conversion and then was short with a penalty effort at the end of the game.