Sat 03
1st XV
Saturday 3rd September Burntwood v Leek

Saturday 3rd September Burntwood v Leek

By Michael Whitehouse
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Leek's opening game of the season against newly promoted Burntwood in the local cup ended in disappointment for the Moorlanders as they threw away a 13 point lead in the last 10 minutes to leave them tasting defeat.

It wasn't until the 3rd minute of stoppage time that Leek fell behind in this match, which shows the measure of their misfortune.

Fielding 5 forwards fresh out of the colts at 19 years of age and with a makeshift midfield due to injuries and unavailability of 5 first team players, the squad that did play can be really encouraged by this performance, in the main.

Starting with the slope and wind at their backs on the hard, poorly grassed Sportsway, Leek opened strongly, retaining possession from the kick off and through a series of rucks were held up over the line. 5 minutes of pressure on the Burntwood line though was relieved with a penalty against Leek.
It wasn't long though before Leek was back down on the Burntwood line and from a 5 metre scrum, No8 Dave Ackerley picked up and passed blind. Simple hands and an overlap saw right wing Lucas Buxton touch down for the opening try in the right corner. The difficult conversion was missed by Sam Hunt but leek were off to a flyer at 5-0.
a 16th minute penalty for Leek saw Hunt push the kick wide and on 23 minutes, Burntwood's first real foray into Leek territory saw them move from a quick penalty on half way to another penalty on Leek's 22 for not rolling away. The kick was good and the home side narrowed the Leek lead to 3-5.

Leek continued to dominate and look dangerous in open play and another flowing move with backs and forwards creating quick rucks and then supporting out of the tackle broke the Burntwood defence and Andy McFadden went over for a good try on 31 minutes that Sam Hunt converted to boos Leek's lead to 3-12.

Leek then allowed Burntwood to get back into the game through a series of poor decisions. Leek were lucky a simple penalty was missed - justice for a poor decision when there was a blatant knock on - but on the stroke of half time, Burntwood scored a try that lifted them as they moved the ball well to the left and the the right to outflank the Leek defence and score in the right corner. The conversion was missed, but Leek went into halftime only 12-8 in front when their play warranted a bigger margin.

2 minutes into the 2nd half and dynamic blindside flanker Matt Slinn had to go off with a neck injury causing Tom Sims to move from the 2nd row to flank and allowing Andy Green to come into the 2nd row.
Burntwood sensed problems in the Leek defence and from scrappy play near the Leek line in which the home forwards were held up, a resultant penalty on 45 minutes led to a successful drop goal attempt on 51 minutes after relentless pressure. This narrowed Leek's lead to 12-11.
Leek's young wing debutant Ollie Drew gave way to Adam Smith on 54 minutes and then just as the tide looked to have turned in favour of the home side though, back came Leek and in the space of 10 minutes looked to have put the game beyond Burntwood as they scored 2 scintillating tries.

First on 57 minutes, Sam Hunt fielded a ball on his own 22 and went on a mazy run beating 5 would be tacklers before support from Andy McFadden and then finally Nick Palmer saw the converted centre race to the Burntwood line for a great try. The conversion was missed but Leek were up to 17-11.

Back came Burntwood and with midfield pressure and the ball coming to the half back, a decision to kick the ball across field on 65 minutes led the Leek back Shane Dicker to collect the ball, break some tackles and offload to the breakaway forwards and a final pass to skipper Jason Milner saw the prop sprint in from 20 metres for another try. Sam Hunt converted and at 24-11 with 13 minutes to go, it looked over for the home side.

On 70 minutes, a line out on Leek's 5 metre line led to a catch and drive and score. With the conversion good, suddenly at 24-18, Leek's lead looked vulnerable.
On 75 minutes Tom Bourne came on for Jason Milner. Leek's scrum was steady and won their first against the head, but then the forwards lost the ball in contact and from another penalty, Burntwood drove leek back to the 5metre line on 80 minutes. Another catch and drive saw another try, but the conversion was missed leaving Leek holding a slender 24-23 lead as the game entered stoppage time.

A scrum for Leek in the Burntwood 22 though looked to have been the ideal opportunity for the Moorlanders to close out the game, but the referee penalised the front row and a quick penalty and momentum from the home forwards eventually led to the replacement 2nd row going on an aggressive ruin for the Leek line, thrashing through would be tacklers to score a great try in the corner. The conversion was missed but at 28-24, Leek had conceded 3 tries late in the game and couldn't quite get back on terms.

So, overall disappointment in the result, but a lot of positives came out of the game with coach Chris Mudd enthusiastic about the way the Leek youngsters had played, the level of fitness of the squad and plenty of experienced players still retaining their enthusiasm for the game.

Next week sees the league season start at Midlands 2 level and Leek will welcome old Staffordshire adversaries Tamworth to F Ball Park.
Kick off is at 3pm.
On September 11th, Leek's minis juniors will have their registration day at the club. The club shop will feature new Leek sports ware, also available at Supersport on Mill Street.
On Friday September 16th, the weekend's Beer festival starts with live music and different beers to try.
On September 17th, Leek's 2nd league game is also at home against Aston Old Edwardians. This day features the 2nd day of the beer festival at the club.
England plays Argentina in the World Cup, kick off at 9.30am on the big screen at the club. Plenty of food is on all day and there is a band on in the evening.
Come and support the club, have a great day out watching local rugby and the national team.
Author John McDermott

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Match details

Match date

Sat 03, Sep 2011