….for the first time in over a decade.
Jack Newton Taylor was back at full back with Jack Lawlor and Tom Scragg on the wings. Adam Varley returned and partnered Sam Hunt in the centres. Dan Needham and Isaac Reaney were at half back.
Joe Newton Taylor, Ed Cheadle and Bobby Cheadle were in the front row. Skipper Luke Harden and Andy McFadden were at lock. Tom Fairhurst, Joel Booth and Jake Bainbridge made up the backrow.
Ollie Drew, Andy Thompson and Kini Buli were on the bench.
Another glorious day greeted the players and spectators at EsterChem Park and it took Leek just 4 minutes to open the scoring when Wolverhampton were caught offside. Sam Hunt converted and Leek led 3-0.
As the opening quarter ended Wolverhampton were pressing in Leek's 22 and won a penalty for handling in the ruck. A quick tap ensued but leek defended well and won a penalty to clear.
2 minutes later and Wolves won another penalty for a ruck offence and this time they kicked for the lineout on the left on Leek's 22. Good ball off the top and passing right, the Wolves backs supported each other well and the wing scored in the right corner on 25 minutes.
The conversion missed but Wolves took the lead at 3-5.
On 27 minutes Adam Varley was yellow carded as Leek's persistent penalty count at rucks and tackles mounted, but Leek's Tom Scragg led a powerful riposte with a couple of strong bursts through the middle leading to a penalty on 29 minutes for not releasing in the tackle.
The kick for the lineout by Sam Hunt had Leek with a good position in Wolves 22 on the right. A catch and drive then allowed Joe Newton Taylor to crash over for Leek's first try. Sam Hunt converted and Leek retook the lead at 10-5.
As the half closed Wolves were pressing again and were held up over the line as Adam Varley came back on. Leek were caught offside and Wolves moved quickly but Leek defended well again and players started to get frustrated as the referee spoke to both captains.
Leek stole the ball at the next ruck, kicking clear and the return kick only found Jack Newton taylor who broke quickly from his own 22. A penalty came for a deliberate knock down but from the lineout in Wolves 22, Leek were offside and the half time whistle blew with Leek leading 10-3.
6 minutes into the 2nd half and Leek extended their lead with their 2nd try. A high tackle led to an accurate line kick from sam Hunt again with a Leek lineout 10 metres from the Wolves line on the right. The familiar catch and drive this time saw Andy McFadden touch down under the bodies of the packs. The conversion missed but Leek extended the lead to 15-5.
On 50 minutes Wolves lost their influential blindside flanker but Wolves pressed again until they were penalised for offside on 59 minutes. Leek then won a series of 3 penalties near Wolves goal line on the left and it looked certain the pack would convert a try from the position but the Wolves defence held and as the ball came out for Leek an interception by the centre led him to sprint the entire length of the field, holding off 2 challenges to score in the right corner with 62 minutes played. The conversion missed but at 10-5, the game had turned again.
Indeed 7 minutes later and Wolves were drawing level with a well worked try on the left after strong work by the left wing set up an inside pass for him to get free and take the return pass to score. The conversion missed but Wolves had fought back to parity at 15 all with 10 minutes to go.
The momentum was beginning to change but Leek stuck at it and won a penalty at the scrum on 76 minutes. The lineout on the left and maul won Leek a penalty as the maul was brought down. 2 more penalties for Leek as they ground down the Wolves pack led to a 79th minute penalty under the Wolves posts as the lock was yellow carded. Sam Hunt converted to edge Leek into the lead at 18-15. In added time Leek won another scrum penalty and Sam Hunt kicked it superbly to extend the lead to 21-15 with a minute to go. Leek then controlled the ball well to deny Wolves any chance of another comeback.
It had been a tough, close encounter with defences generally on top and both sides can take a lot from the game as they revert to league rugby this weekend.
For Leek though, it's a trip to Walsall on Sunday May 5th for the Staffordshire Intermediate Cup Final on Presidents day where they will play the winners of the match between Newcastle and Walsall.
This Saturday, coincidentally, Leek travel the short distance to Newcastle for what will surely be the usual intense game between these two rivals. Both sides are going well in the league at the moment, so Leek supporters are encouraged to travel to Newcastle for the 3pm KO and get behind their team.