This was billed as a relegation battle game with Leek aiming to keep in contact with the sides above. On a cold but bright afternoon Leek were able to field probably one of the strongest sides all season with captain Bobby Cheadle making up the front row with Ed Cheadle and Jason Milner. Luke Hardern started his first home game since August last year at lock alongside Phil Tomzak with Simon Drew , Andy McFadden and Luke Staton playing in the back three of the pack.
Needham returned at scrum half alongside Gary McDermott with both Fijian centres ,Bully and Naz starting . This allowed Nick Palmer and George Hunt to play on the wings with vice captain Liam McDermott starting at full back.
From the kick off Leek started strongly with a clean catch with the ball making its way to L McDermott who cleverly chipped over the advancing Walsall centres and with the pace of winger Palmer the immediate pressure was placed on the Walsall full back who made a error to allow Palmer to immediately make the try in the corner .
This settled the nerves of the home side who very quickly began to play some well controlled and expansive rugby throughout the team which allowed them to score freely throughout the first half , this was emphasised after 30 minutes when Hardern went on a rampaging run from the half way line and was stopped approx. 10 metres from the try line, the ball was gathered by Needham to allow Bully a great score under the posts. During this half both Hunt and Palmer on both wings were able to obtain the ball after some strong work and passing from both forward play and along the backs to run in several lengthy tries. During this half there was a minor skirmish between a few players from both sides which was well handled by the referee to allow the game to continue at the disciplined manner it was played in.
At half time Leek were winning 41 -3 which could hardly of been imagined at the start . Due to injuries in Walsall front row the second half was played with an uncontested scrum and 14 players which is never ideal . Walsall players did not give up and for the first 15 minutes of the second half worked hard to get back into the game with flowing rugby , Leek players had to defend well and certainly the work paid off with further tries throughout the second half with the pick from veteran prop Milner and another from winger Palmer , who went onto the score 5 tries . During the second half the 3 subs , Dan Slinn, Lee Williams and Andy Thompson were all able to be involved in the game in an effort to keep allowing players access to this divisions standard of Rugby. Walsall were able to take well earned and deserved try in the last 10 mins with Milner shortly after taking a sin bin card for repeated offending .Gary McDermott finished the game off after a busy kicking day for him to finish the game with Leek winning by 65 - 8.
Captain Cheadle said after the game" This season has been challenging due to injuries and unavailability's and when we have players returning it just shows how we can compete at this level, it is key the whole club and squad remain positive and work hard at training and provide strong competition after all 3 Leek teams won at the weekend . I thought we worked hard as a team, we just need to keep it going.
Leek are still 3rd from bottom and with Stoke winning on Saturday there is still a 15 point gap between the 2 places. There is no 1st team game this coming Saturday with the next home game on Sat 20 Feb at Esterchem park for the team .
On Fri 5.2.16 Leek under 15/16 squad are playing under floodlights at Esterchem park , bar open from 6pm with hot food , kick off at 7-30pm.
On Sat 6th Feb the 6 nations games commence , England V Scotland ko 1650hrs.
bar open from 1.15pm with hot food from 3.30pm.
All 6 nations games will be shown at club house , please see website and Facebook for details.