This competition is open to all Level 7 clubs, of which there are 48 in the Midlands.
The competition goes through 3 rounds, then a quarter final, semi-final and a Midlands final. After that, the 4 regional winners fight out semi-finals and then the national final is played at Twickenham.
Leek’s last few attempts at progressing past Round 1 have ended in failure, so there was a chance, with a home draw, to test themselves against newcomers to this level, Dronfield, who had been promoted last season.
Jamie Gordon got his chance to start alongside the Cheadle brothers in the front row with usual locks Luke Hardern and Tom Sims making up the front 5. A change in the back row allowed James Wilson, a convert from the backs, start at No8 with Andy Mcfadden and Ad Nettel on the flanks.
Dan Needham and Gary McDermott were at half back and Shane Dicker and Liam McDermott were in the centres. Nick Palmer, James Floyd and Jack Newton Taylor made up the back 3.
Jason Milner, Andy Thompson and Luke Granger were on the bench.
On a perfect day for rugby, Leek opened brightly and 2 early penalties gave them a 5 metre lineout on the right hand side. A catch and drive and then a pick up by Jamie Gordon saw the prop crash over for Leek’s opening score. Gary McDermott converted and Leek had started quickly at 7-0.
On 15 minutes, with Leek still holding the upper hand, Dan Needham kicked for the Dronfield corner. The forwards disrupted the visitor’s lineout and Jamie Gordon again drove for the line. He set up the ruck and quick ball blindside gave Ad Nettel a try right in the corner. McDermott converted superbly to double Leek’s advantage to 14-0.
Dronfield’s defence was being stretched and on 20 minutes Leek had a scrum 5 metres from the line. A near interception meant another scrum 8 metres out. Leek’s forwards set up ruck on right side and then passed ball wide left where Jack Newton taylor was stopped just short of the line. Another ruck and quick ball to Ed Cheadle saw the young Leek hooker score his try. McDermott converted again and Leek were up to 21-0.
On 28 minutes, James Wilson took the ball on to half way. He set the ruck up and the ball was miss passed behind the gain line. Shane Dicker recovered the ball and went on a rampaging run through defenders before brushing aside the last line and scoring a fine try by the posts. McDermott converted and Leek were leading 28-0.
Dronfield needed some ball and prodded by their excellent fly half, the centre made a great break and was stopped on Leek’s 5 metre line. They won a penalty for the defence slowing the ball, but in the act of rushing they were penalised for charging the kick and Leek cleared. Leek ended the half producing 2 further incisive breaks but couldn’t add to their score and Dronfield needed the break to regroup at 28-0.
2 minutes into the 2nd half and Dronfield were bravely running the ball out of defence, but the last pass only found Andy McFadden. Jamie Gordon went on the charge again. A ruck allowed Shane Dicker to burst through tackles to score his 2nd and Leek’s 5th try of the day. McDermott missed his first conversion, but at 33-0, there wasn’t any way back for the North Derbyshire men to win now. However, they did come back strongly at this point and Leek found themselves under pressure. A lightning break through the middle on 57 minutes saw them set up a ruck in the Leek 22 and an inside ball saw a deserved try come Dronfield’s way. The conversion was good and the lead was now 33-7.
Leek came back in the 63rd minutes when they won a scrum in the Dronfield 22. Dan Needham picked up, twisted, turned and dummied his way under the posts. McDermott converted and Leek were up to 40-7.
Dronfield came back strongly in the remaining few minutes and on 75 minutes scored another try when the full back kicked across the line superbly for the left wing to catch and score in the corner. The conversion missed, but Dronfield had reduced the Leek advantage to 40-12.
The game ended with both sides looking to run the ball, but no further score was made.
In the end, it was a good performance by the Moorlanders, particularly in the first half when they dominated possession and territory. Dronfield played well in the 2nd half and can take something from the game as both teams get back to league action next week.
In other cup games, Bridgnorth, Crewe and Nantwich, Stafford all won from the West 2 (N) league with Ludlow the only losers. The draw will take place this week and Leek will be hoping for another home game.
This Saturday Leek entertains Tamworth in the league and knows full well the capability of a side that did the double over Leek last season.
It is also Ladies day and there will be a buffet and bubbly on offer before the game. Kick-off is at 3pm and the club will open at 1pm. Please come and support the club and enjoy a great afternoon at Esterchem Park.