Knutsford were beaten convincingly on Saturday by a Leek 2nds team that were well drilled, comfortable in possession and powerful.
Knutsford were without at least 13 key players for this home fixture with new faces featuring all over the park but never was the passion or determination at fault as the teams lined up to observe a perfectly respected 2 minutes silence in memory of Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth 2nd in front of a record crowd at the home venue
Those that donned the Knutsford yellow provided a stoic and high effort display, Tom Irvine and Tom Page stepping into a makeshift front row provided a stable platform and when Knutsford did get the ball they looked like they could be a serious cause for concern for the big Leek side. A halfback pairing of Bensky and Cook mean that ball was able to get down the back lines but the clinical finishing required was simply not there when it mattered most, amplified by a lack of possession, these chances had to be taken and Knutsford fell short.
The Leek pack was large, mobile and well versed in round the corner forward carrying rugby and they did an excellent job of breaking down their relatively inexperienced peers, punching holes with direct and strong carries and then finding the space around the breakdown to make clinical yards.
Most notably, the spirit of the game and the penalty count was excellent marshalled in the main by a superb young referee.
Knutsford went behind with 3 early quick scores mainly through lack of focus, a penalty for not retreating and defensive frailties at the rucks let Leek in for them to take the early lead but Knutsford rallied and produced arguably the try of the game. The forwards played several phases, McQuade from deep, Robertson making yards and Tom Lowe debuting at 12 making holes, ball was fed by Bensky to Cook who found Alex Malcolm and it swayed the whole width of the pitch twice before solid hands in the offload allowed number 8 Kyle Blake to score his first try of the season.
This solitary score was to be very telling of the match and time and again Leek simply punched holes in Knutsfords pack scoring try after try.
Every man on the team put in a real shift but was not enough to rally any form of challenging comeback, special mention to Declan Mcloughlin who put in a player of the match performance and defended everywhere. Knutsford will need to rally this week ahead of a tough away fixture at Crewe and Nantwich
Knutsford have training on Thursday evenings, 7:30pm at Booths hall playing field, first left at the roundabout after Toft Cricket club and new players of all abilities really are welcome.