This confirmed the respective league standings of 6th and 7th for the Staffs clubs.
It left Leek nursing a 4th home reverse in an otherwise fantastic season at this level with 12 wins, 9 defeats and a draw.
The draw was played out at Tamworth in the opening fixture of the season and so this game was eagerly awaited to check on progress for both clubs. As it happened, Tamworth were far too strong in the forwards as their pack dominated proceedings to land 3 push over tries with Leek struggling to win any lineout ball and failing to take advantage of the penalty count in their favour.
Joe Newton Taylor, Luke Granger and Jamie Clarke were in the front row and James Newby, playing his last game for Leek before a move south, was partnered by Tom Sims at lock. Ad Nettel, Andy McFadden and Luke Staton were in the back row.
Dave Kennaway and Gary McDermott were at half back and Simon Drew and Sam Hunt were the starting centres with George Hunt and Nick Palmer on the wings. Elliott Fowler came in at full back.
Tom Bourne, Matt Slinn and Ollie Drew were on the bench.
The game started brightly for Leek as Tamworth failed to retain the ball at kick off and inside 2 minutes had been penalised for offside. McDermott kicked the first of 2 penalty successes then and on 8 minutes for a similar offence handing the Moorlanders a useful 6-0 lead.
Tamworth were intent on snuffing the threat from Leek's backs by moving quickly from the offside line and once they stopped giving penalties away, they settled into the game.
On 16 minutes, Leek were penalised for not releasing in the tackle and the Tamworth fly half kicked for the Leek corner. From the lineout, Leek were penalised again for bringing the maul down and from the 5 metre scrum, the ominous power of the Tamworth set scrum saw them trundle over the Leek line for the No8 to score a try. The conversion was good and Tamworth took a 7-6 lead.
Most of the rest of the first half saw both sides trying to gain the upper hand with McDermott missing 2 difficult 40 metre penalty attempts for pulling down in the lineout on 28 and offside at the ruck on 37 minutes.
As the half entered injury time, the Tamworth No8 was yellow carded for stamping, but Leek couldn't make any impression on the solid Tamworth defence.
Half Time: Leek 6 - 7 Tamworth.
The visitors won a penalty in the first minute of the 2nd half as the fly half kicked through and was impeded. With the penalty now at the point where the ball alighted, a good kick by the Tamworth fly half saw them increase their lead to 10-6. As if that wasn't enough misfortune for Leek, Luke Granger was yellow carded in the 45th minute as he stamped on a player in the ruck.
As scrums became more difficult for Leek, Tom Bourne came on as a replacement front row player and then with Tamworth breaking into the Leek half on 55 minutes, Ollie Drew made a timely interception to prevent a possible scoring chance.
Tamworth's pressure was mounting and Leek were finding it hard to repel the visitors and only a last ditch tackle by Elliott Fowler on 57 minutes prevented a score. But from the resulting 5 metre scrum, the big Tamworth pack shoved Leek over their own line again to score a deserved try. With the conversion successful, the Tamworth lead extended to 17 - 6.
From the kick off, Leek's players seemed dazed and the Tamworth fly half ran through the middle of the Leek forwards without a tackle being attempted. His kick ahead led to another 5 metre scrum and as a minute before, Tamworth's No8 scored his 3rd and Tamworth's 3rd, pushover try. Another conversion and Leek's flimsy hopes of salvaging anything from this game looked ended.
Leek did come back however and after a series of penalties, the forwards set up a maul in the Tamworth 22 on 68 minutes. Quick ball on the open side saw skipper Ad Nettel take a pass from Nick Palmer, hand off a couple of players and round for a try. McDermott converted to reduce the deficit to 13-24.
No amount of further effort could help save at least a losing bonus point and the match played out with Tamworth holding their lead and running out deserved winners with the score reflecting the match very well.
Uncharacteristically, Leek's usual zip in the forwards and quick ball handling skills were collectively lacking in this game and there will be an important lesson to learn over the summer with respect to concentration and accepting the situation in front of them.
Nevertheless, it has been a most successful season overall and all the players and coaching staff are to be congratulated on their dedication over the season long bid to retain their league status. Not only did Leek achieve this, but they finished in the top half of the league, and that is no mean feat against the strength of their rivals.
On Easter Saturday, we are hoping to arrange one game. Keep in touch with the captains.
On April 30th, Leek entertains Uttoxeter at home in the final match of the season.
Thanks to everyone for their continued support.