Midlands West 1
This was heartache for Leek, leading 21-10 with 76 minutes on the clock, conceded 2 converted tries, one with the last play of the match to have victory snatched from them by Stoke.
It was a cruel end to a match largely in Leek’s control after a bright opening by Stoke had given them a 2nd minute lead from a drop goal following a penalty. 0-3.
Leek had to endure another few minutes of Stoke pressure before they equalised with a Gary McDermott penalty on 10 minutes for in at the side of a maul offence. 3-3.
Stoke missed a 13th minute penalty before Leek drew ahead on 22 minutes following a strong break by Naz Narawa which saw him stopped at Stoke’s 5 metre line. A Leek scrum ensued, James Thomson picked up at No. 8, committed defenders to the ruck and Dan Needham’s pass to Nick Palmer saw the Leek wing score by the posts. Gary McDermott converted and Leek led 10-3.
3 minutes later and Stoke drew level from a driving maul following a lineout catch and drive, triggered by a penalty for obstruction in midfield. The conversion was excellent from the left touch and the sides were level at 10 all.
Back came Leek and on 34 minutes another penalty conversion by McDermott for off feet at the ruck handed the Moorlanders the lead at 13-10.
Then on 37 minutes, McDermott kicked for a lineout in the Stoke half. The Leek forwards mauled to the Stoke 22 where Dan Needham took control and went blind. His pass fed James Floyd and the winger sprinted in for a try in the right corner. The conversion missed but Leek led 18-10.
The half ended with Nick Palmer racing to the Stoke line where he was bravely stopped. A try looked certain but Dan Needham’s pass to Ed Harrison went to ground and the half ended with Leek holding an18-10 lead.
The 2nd half opened with play in the Stoke half and on 50 minutes Gary McDermott extended the lead to 21-10 with another penalty after Dan Needham’s quick tap penalty led to getting into kicking range.
This only led to further Leek confidence which was interrupted on 66 minutes with most of Stoke’s front row now injured, ensuring uncontested scrums for the remainder of the game. Still Leek were pressing but on 76 minutes after a turnover on half way a couple of quick passes saw Tom Hughes, the Stoke fly half score a try under the posts as he sprinted clear. The conversion was a formality and at 21-17, with 3 minutes to go renewed energy lifted Stoke. However, still Leek had advantage in the Stoke half and on 80 minutes Ed Harrison got over the line following good forward pressure but the pass was adjudged forward.
Then as the game entered its 88th minute a lineout to Stoke on half way gave the fly half one last chance to create a score. He chipped the ball over the advancing Leek backs into space, the ball bounced kindly to onrushing right wing who gratefully caught the ball and sprinted in for the try to seal an unlikely win. The conversion was good and the whistle blew for no side at 21-24.
It was a galling end to the game for Leek as they deserved to win, but concentration is required until the last whistle and fair does to Stoke, they took their last two chances well and stole the game.
A losing bonus point for Leek saw them move to 15 points behind Crewe who lost at home without any points and this week’s trip to Crewe for Leek is a do or die day for the Moorlanders. 4 games to go means they have to win on Saturday to avoid relegation then. Kick-off is 3pm.
Please come and support the team before enjoying the last day of the 6 nations at the club. The France England game is live at the club at 8pm. Preceded by Ireland v Scotland at 5pm