....in the incessant rain that engulfed EsterChem Park on Saturday.
Leek welcomed back skipper Bobby Cheadle and with Ed, his brother and Jason Milner, made up the front row. Phil Tomczak and Ed Harrison were at lock. Luke Staton returned on the flank with Andy Thompson and Jack Conlon was at No 8.
Ollie Drew and Gary McDermott were at half back and Liam McDermott and James Floyd were in the centre. Isaac Reaney returned at full back with Dan Sharratt and Jack Leadingham on the wings.
Adam Kelly, Reece Milner and Nick Thompson were on the bench.
Leek started brightly and scored the opening try on 3 minutes. A break by Liam McDermott had the Bridgnorth flanker scampering back to secure the ball on his own 5 metre line. The ensuing clearance had Leek winning a lineout on the Bridgnorth 22. Patient rucking and great hands then had the visitors' defence split and when the maul was set up 5 metres from the line, Leek's forwards drove over for Ed Harrison to score. Gary McDermott converted and Leek had the perfect start at 7-0.
Bridgnorth had the chance to pull 3 points back on 9 minutes following a penalty for holding on in the tackle but the attempt went wide and then 4 minutes later, McDermott had his first penalty following an off feet decision, but the attempt went wide.
On 18 minutes though, McDermott converted an excellent penalty from near the left touchline when Bridgnorth infringed for not releasing in the tackle. 10-0.
Bridgnorth then opted to kick for a lineout on Leek's 5 metre line following a penalty for not rolling away at the tackle. The catch and drive on 21 minutes came but the Leek pack disrupted the drive and forced a knock on. 4 minutes later a 5 metre scrum had the Bridgnorth No8 pick up this time but Leek's backrow snaffled the ball away and the line was cleared.
McDermott then had a 40 metre penalty attempt on 35 minutes for a high tackle offence and although he had the distance, the ball went wide. The last play of the half went to Bridgnorth when their kicker also missed a long range effort for a scrum offence.
Half Time 10-0.
It had been a great half for Leek with Bridgnorth unable to break the solid Leek midfield defence and the forwards matching their bigger rivals and winning all their lineout ball. The handling was exceptional as well, in the conditions, with forwards and backs combining to stretch the Bridgnorth defence. It was a deserving half time lead but needed another 40 minutes of the same to secure the win.
It took 3 minutes of the 2nd half for Bridgnorth to register their first try after Leek lost their first lineout on the half way line. A couple of missed tackles followed and then the Bridgnorth scrum half injected pace to get behind the defence, receive a return ball and scoot by the posts to score a fine try. The conversion was good and signalled the visitors intent. 10-7.
On 58 minutes, a technical penalty on half way for Bridgnorth had them supporting the ball carrier and as they moved the ball left and outflanked the defence for a try in the left corner. A great conversion followed. 10-14.
Leek's injuries were mounting as James Floyd, Jack Conlon and Andy Thompson all had to leave the field. The bench worked hard but on 65 minutes a 5 metre scrum led to a couple of rucks and a crash over 3rd try for the visitors. The conversion missed. 10-19.
The visitors were now in control and trying to get the bonus point which came on 77 minutes after brave defence by Leek had them once again defending a 5 metre scrum very well, but the ensuing rucks had the defence stretched and the fly half went over by the posts for the 4th try. The conversion was good. 10-26.
A yellow card for each side in injury time saw Ed Cheadle go to the bin, but his superb performance in the loose epitomised the whole team's commitment and this should help next week when the side travels to Burton for their first ever league encounter.
Kick off 2.15pm.
Next home game is on November 28th versus Crewe and Nantwich. KO 2.15pm
Author John McDermott