In a fast-paced game, Leek proved too hot to handle for the home side as the Moorlanders scored 8 tries to 2 to book their place in the
Midlands Intermediate Cup semi-final on January 20th .
With 3 changes to the starting line up from last week’s game, Will Graham, Tom Scragg and Kini Bulli were the starting back 3 with Rob McDermott and Nick Palmer in the centres.
Gary McDermott and Ollie Drew were at half back.
Lee Williams, Ed Cheadle and Bobby Cheadle made up the front row with Jake Bainbridge joining Ben Barlow at lock.
Andy Thompson, George Hunt and skipper Luke Hardern were in the back row.
Simon Drew, Andy Outram and Matt Leadingham were on the bench.
It was cold and overcast as the game kicked off and Leek were on the scoreboard inside 3 minutes after a turnover in the Leek half had the backs passing left leaving Kini Bulli with an overlap. He made it to Southwell’s 5 metre line and a couple of rucks later, Nick Palmer sprinted over by the posts for the opening score. Gary McDermott added the conversion to give Leek an early 0-7 lead.
An early, encouraging, sign for the band of travelling Leek supporters.
Leek continued to press in the opening quarter and were rewarded again on 15 minutes despite losing Lee Williams to injury and having to reshuffle 3 members of the pack.
Leek had a scrum in the Southwell 22 for a knock on and Luke Hardern picked up at the base. He went open, fed scrum half Ollie Drew who was stopped short of the line.
The ball was recycled and shipped blind where the overlap allowed right wing Tom Scragg to touch down in the corner. McDermott missed the conversion but Leek had extended their lead to 0-12.
On 27 minutes, a superb 3rd try for Leek was started by a 40 metre run from Tom Scragg. He set up the ruck on the right near the 22 and with numbers left, full back Will Graham made it near to the line before his pass out of the tackle let in Kini Bulli for the first of his 2 tries. McDermott’s conversion was good and at 0-19
Leek were looking increasingly confident.
It was to get better before the half ended as well. On 36 minutes, a fantastic move off the back off the scrum inside the Southwell half gave Tom Scragg enough space to crash his way over for his 2nd and Leek’s 4th try of the day. McDermott’s conversion failed and the half ended with Leek holding a 0-24 lead.
Southwell needed the break and they started the 2nd half in more determined fashion, probing into Leek’s half and looking dangerous. But just as it looked like they may get back in the game, on 49 minutes, Ed Cheadle turned the ball over on half way. Quick hands left and Kini Bulli was left in the clear from 40 metres and he rounded the full back to score his 2nd and Leek’s 5th try in the left corner. The conversion missed but at 0-29, it was a game to lose for Leek now.
Signal the Southwell fight back then!
The home forwards dominated a couple of rucks and Leek was twice penalised in its 22 allowing a lineout catch and drive infield. The ruck formed and quick hands on the blind side caught Leek’s defence napping and the wing scored a deserved try. The conversion followed to narrow the Leek lead to 7-29 on 54 minutes.
11 minutes later, the Southwell fly half scored after excellent work by the right wing. He chipped ahead behind Matt Leadingham at full back and his hurried clearance kick only found the fly half on the Leek 22 and he broke a tackle to score. His conversion further eroded Leek’s lead to 14-29 on 67 minutes and Leek needed to stem the fight back urgently.
On 74 minutes another turnover on half way created a hole for Simon Drew to sprint through. His good pass to brother Ollie, saw the eager scrum half sprint in under the posts. McDermott converted to end any hope of a comeback as the lead stretched to 14-36.
2 further scores came in the dying minutes. Firstly a lineout catch and drive gave Simon Drew a score at the back of the maul on 78 minutes, 14-41, and with the last play of the match, with Southwell deep in Leek’s 22, Luke Hardern’s excellent turnover produced an overlap for Andy Outram to sprint the length of the field to be stopped 5 metres short of the Southwell line, only for Jake Bainbridge to follow up, collect and score a deserved try. The conversion missed but Leek had ended the game strongly and ran out 14-46 winners.
It had been an encouraging performance from Leek with youngster Will Graham in the thick of the action and wingers Tom Scragg and Kini Bulli scoring 2 tries apiece. Confidence to run the ball is high and the side is improving week by week.
Leek reach the last 4 of the Midlands Cup with this win and join Whitchurch which had a strong win at Coalville, Droitwich which beat Crewe & Nantwich and Earlsdon which beat Newark.
Whitchurch and Droitwich currently sit top of their respective leagues, both undefeated and Earlsdon are 4th behind Droitwich in 2 West (S).
The semi-final draw will be made shortly and the games will be played on January 20th, 2018.
Next week Leek returns to league action with a home fixture against Ludlow. Kick-off is at 2.15pm.
It is also Ladies Day at the club – tickets from Anna behind the bar.