A 3 tries to 1 score line reflected the open match with both sides endeavouring to attack from the first whistle to the last.
Isaac Reaney was back at fullback with James Floyd and Tom Laverick on the wings. Gary McDermott and Dan Needham were at half back with the Fijian centre partnership of Naz and Bulli ensuring a solid looking back division.
Adam Kelly with Ed Cheadle and skipper Bobby Cheadle made up the front row. Ed Harrison and Phil Tomczak were at lock. Luke Staton returned at No.8 with Andy McFadden and George Hunt on the flanks.
Dan Cooper, Nick Palmer and Andy Thompson were on the bench.
It was a perfect autumnal day for rugby and with Leek’s pack shoving their visitors off their first scrum on 5 minutes, an early chance for Leek to take the lead was thwarted after Dan Needham chipped the ball towards the Sils line, James Floyd collected and Luke Staton was held up over the line. The ensuing scrum had Leek inching towards the Sils line and as it turned the referee awarded Leek a penalty. Opting for the scrum, Leek were undone as the Sils scrum turned the tables and cleared.
On 13 minutes, Sils were pressing on Leek’s 22 on the left but James Floyd popped up with the ball out of the maul and set off down Leek’s right flank. He was eventually tackled into touch on Sils 22. However Leek won the lineout and the forwards set up a maul. Sils were then penalised for bringing the maul down and Gary McDermott stepped up to open the scoring on 15 minutes with a well struck goal. 3-0.
More good mauling on 22 minutes then had Sils on the back foot as a miss move and James Floyd coming into the line produced an overlap which had Tom Laverick tackled into touch on the Sils 22.
3 minutes later a Leek scrum on their own 10 metre line allowed a couple of quick rucks to be set and then the ball shipped down the blind side with a McDermott to Laverick pass allowing the left wing to skip inside his man, create the space further wide for the enterprising young full back, Isaac Reaney, to sprint past the last defender and go under the posts for the first try of the game. McDermott converted and Leek stretched their lead to 10-0.
McDermott missed a long range 35th minute penalty for handling in the ruck but as the 40th minute past there had been little threat from the Sils back division. Then a penalty on half way allowed the Sils fly half to kick for the lineout on Leek’s 22. Good retention and patience had the ball moving right to left. Another penalty in the 22 had the Leek defence stretched and good hands then gave the inside centre the chance to break a tackle and score under the posts. The conversion was good and as the half time whistle went it was game on at 10-7.
Sils started the 2nd half strongly as they sensed the tide was turning and on 48 minutes were deep in the Leek 22 when Naz pinched the ball on the 5 metre line and McDermott cleared to half way. The defensive effort seemed to lift Leek and on 51 minutes, the 2ndand best try of the day was fashioned on half way when Gary McDermott made a clean break and passed inside to Dan Cooper. The prop set up the ruck and then fast hands from Bulli to Naz and then Nick Palmer had the wing sprinting for the line on the right. His inside pass back to Naz saw the big centre touch down for an excellent score. McDermott converted to restore Leek’s 10 point lead at 17-7.
Back came Sils from the kick off when they retained possession and 2 minutes later won a penalty for slowing the ball at which Bobby Cheadle was warned by the referee. The penalty attempt was good and at 17-10, it was still anyone’s game.
Leek came back strongly then and on 56 minutes Gary McDermott made another break to the Sils 5 metre line. A try looked inevitable but as the ball went wide left on an easy overlap, a stray pass ended up in touch and Sils cleared from the lineout.
McDermott missed another long range penalty on 62 minutes, but from the 22 drop out, Bobby Cheadle charged the kick down and collected it. As Leek swarmed all over the Sils 5 metre line, again it looked like an overlap had been created but a deliberate knock on by the Sils centre stopped the move. His yellow card then gave Leek a 5 metre scrum on the right. Patient rucking then had the maul set up by the posts and with control Ed Cheadle crashed over at the back of the maul to score Leek’s 3rd and decisive try. McDermott converted and stretched the lead to 24-10 on 68 minutes.
Leek then had chance to score again as Ed Harrison made a break on 72 minutes. The big lock had Leek up to the 5 metre line but Leek was penalised for offside. Sils came back strongly and had a 5 metre scrum on 76 minutes. Leek defended that and a lineout truck and trailer offence stopped Sils chance of scoring. Still the visitors worked hard to try and win a bonus point and a penalty on 82 minutes meant a lineout on Leek’s 22. It wasn’t straight and the frustrated visitors just couldn’t get enough pressure on Leek’s defence to make a difference on the score line.
The match ended with both sides still running at each other and trying to play an open game but Leek held on to record their first win of the season.
It had been a good open game with both teams working hard and playing expansively when the opportunity allowed and both will be looking to step up from this to stay in the mid table mix.
This win lifted the Moorlanders off the bottom of the table as Walsall lost their 3rd game in a row. With Whitchurch winning at Crewe, Leek are 13th and travel to local rivals Stoke next Saturday. Stoke just lost out to Kenilworth this week as the Warwickshire side make the early running at the head of the table with 3 bonus point winning performances. Burton are 2nd and remain with Kenilworth, the only 2 sides to have won all 3 opening games.
Kick off at Stoke is at 3pm.
England v Wales will be live at 8pm in the clubhouse on Saturday as well.
Following this weekend’s successful opening of the Rugby World Cup, come down and enjoy a great rugby atmosphere in the clubhouse for what promises to be an epic encounter.