1st XV match report for Saturday, 12th December 2015
Midlands West 1
Leek couldn’t quite peg Hereford back in the final quarter and had to be content with their first losing bonus point of the season in a game where the rain made it a difficult handling day as both sides played a lot of ambitious rugby in the conditions and was a credit to the respective players.
The pitch performed well despite the amount of rain that it had absorbed over the previous week and a junior match on the Friday evening as well. Incessant rain and a gusting wind made for tight affair but the omens for Leek weren’t good as they conceded a 2nd minute penalty for in at the side of a ruck which allowed the visitors a lineout deep in the Leek 22. Leek struggled to retain any ball early on and when on 7 minutes, the lively Hereford out half chipped neatly over the rushing defence, he was tackled without the ball by George Hunt as he tried to gather the ball outside the Leek 22. Hereford spurned the available 3 points and opted for the lineout again. This time the catch and drive was good and Leek couldn’t stop the momentum which led to a try on the left. The conversion missed but a crucial early score gave the visitors a 5-0 lead.
Leek got into the game then and on 12 minutes were close to the Hereford line after stealing a lineout. Hereford’s defence held well but the referee was playing advantage for offside. McDermott had a chance to pull 3 points back but he pulled the attempt wide.
On 19 minutes another in at side of ruck and then another a minute later saw Andy McFadden yellow carded for persistent infringement. Hereford opted for a scrum on Leek’s 5 metre line but after the ball came out, good harrying defence had the Hereford backs knocking on.
George Hunt then made a crucial tackle on 27 minutes after a quick tap penalty caught the Leek defence out on the left. The resulting clearance led to a lineout midway in Leek’s half where Hereford were awarded a penalty for prevention of the quick line.
The kick for the lineout in Leek’s 22 led to a couple of mauls, then a couple of rucks and eventually the No8 crashed over for Hereford’s 2nd try in the left corner. The conversion was superb and Hereford led 12-0 on 30 minutes.
As the half closed down, Hereford were pressing again in Leek’s 22 but Nick Palmer anticipated a pass and intercepted. He sprinted into the Hereford half, passing to Gary McDermott who passed the left wing Dan Sharratt. The winger made it to the Hereford 5 meter line and as the forwards bore down on goal, Leek won a penalty for slowing the ball under the posts. However, the penalty was reversed and Naz Narawa was yellow carded for an altercation in Hereford’s in goal and the chance was lost at the end of the half for leek to get on the score board.
Half Time - Leek 0 - 12 Hereford.
In the 2nd half, the elements were with Leek. They managed to survive the 10 minutes with 14 men despite giving away 2 penalties in the first 2 minutes. As the game entered the final quarter, the rain and wind increased and the visitors looked like holding on, but then Leek won a penalty on 60 minutes for offside and McDermott finally got Leek on the scoreboard with a fine penalty. 3-12.
6 minutes later and the Moorlanders were now pressing and again an offside on Hereford’s 22 had McDermott slot his 2nd penalty. 6-12. 5 minutes later and a penalty at the scrum on Hereford’s 22 had McDermott successfully kicking his 3rd penalty in 12 minutes and at 9-12, the momentum had shifted and leek were sniffing a win. However on 74 minutes Hereford made a powerful break on the left and Leek were caught offside on their own 22. The penalty was good and Hereford moved out to 9-15.
Still Leek were within a score and they had a chance on 80 minutes when they won their first strike against the head on Hereford’s 5 metre line. The forwards needed to maul over the line but a knock on stopped the drive and Hereford survived the final scrum to win the game in the gathering gloom of EsterChem Park.
It was a close game, played in the right spirit and as usual these 2 teams produced a good game of rugby at this level. The win retained Hereford’s 8th place and Leek retained 12th as the only side in the bottom 4 to take a point this weekend. This set of fixtures ended the first half of the season.
Thanks to Brian Mellor Financial Services for sponsoring the game.
This Saturday, Leek starts the 2nd half of the season with a home fixture against Worcester Wanderers at EsterChem Park. Kick-off is 2.15pm.
Following the game, the club has its annual carol concert in the clubhouse where the senior squads and the opposition will entertain the members with their favourite renditions.
Happy Christmas to all from Leek Rugby Club.
On Boxing Day, everyone is welcome at the club from 10am for the annual Veterans v 3rds game, kick off 11am. Anyone wanting to run off a few Xmas pounds will get an outing. Come down and enjoy the festivities and bring your families with you.