Midlands West 1
Crewe and Nantwich 28
Leek lost a close encounter with near neighbours C&N on Saturday, a loss that confirms Leek’s relegation from Midlands 1, if all else remains equal and the RFU continues with its current policy.
It was an unlucky loss but Leek was mainly chasing the game on the points board and only won their losing bonus point with the last play of the match.
Gary McDermott had chances to open Leek’s account on 2 and 4 minutes for scrum and ruck offences but both attempts were pulled before Liam McDermott slotted a 6th minute penalty for off feet at the ruck. 0-3.
C&N were back on terms on 11 minutes for Leek slowing the ball at the tackle and the fly half duly levelled the scores at 3 all.
Leek was having the better of the first half and on 18 minutes were camped in the C&N 22 when an error led to a break out and kick ahead into Leek’s 22. An offside then gave C&N the chance to kick for a 5 metre lineout.
From this, Leek’s forwards decided not to engage the C&N forwards as they caught the ball and stepped over the line for a simple try with the Leek players scratching their heads about the law.
The conversion was good and C&N now led 11-3.
From the kick-off, Andy Thompson caught the ball and it led to a penalty attempt for not releasing in the tackle but Liam McDermott’s effort was wide. However from the C&N 22 drop out, Ed Harrison caught the ball on the 10 metre line and went on a solo burst weaving his way past poor tackling and dotting down under the posts for a try. McDermott converted and on 39 minutes, it was 11-10.
As the game entered added on time, C&N won a penalty for not releasing in the tackle and the successful attempt meant C&N led at the break by 14-10.
2 minutes into the 2nd half and disaster for Leek when a clearance kick over half way was picked up by the C&N backs. Good handling and poor tackling allowed the right wing to score by the posts and with the good conversion C&N were getting into a strong lead at 21-10.
Leek survived a try scoring opportunity on 47 minutes when a crossing decision prevented a score but then on 51 minutes won a penalty for early lifting in the lineout. A quick tap and then drive saw Ed Cheadle crash over for a try in the left corner. Liam McDermott converted and Leek was back in the game at 21-17.
5 minutes later and Leek was on the C&N line but Ed Harrison was stripped of the ball when a score looked possible but on 61 minutes a Lima McDermott penalty got Leek up to within a point of their hosts when he successfully converted for not rolling away at the ruck.21-20.
Still a quarter of the match to go and nothing between the sides. On 67 minutes, leek defended a C&N 5 metre line, if only this had happened in the 1st half and then on 70 minutes young full back Sam Horton made an important clearance with C&N backs bearing down on him.
C&N were picking up the pace now and Leek was struggling to defend their territory but good clearance kicking kept the hosts at bay but then on 78 minutes Leek had a lineout in their own 22. Lack of communication led to a false throw and C&N’s forwards won the ball. It sped along the backs and an overlap led to a try on the right. The conversion was good and at 28-20 entering over time, Leek were not outside bonus point territory.
Credit to the whole of the Leek team then as there was 7 minutes of overtime to play given the stoppages in the half and Leek’s determination led to a last play score. Starting on their own 22, both backs and forwards combined to move the ball well up field. They worked a position 5 metres from the C&N line on the right and a looped pass allowed Andy Thompson to gather and score an unopposed try by the posts. Liam McDermott converted but the final whistle blew to confirm the defeat at 28-27.
It had been a sporting and spirited game. Another competitive match completed by the Leek squad but not enough to keep them in this league this season.
Jack Conlon, Reece Milner, Matt Leadingham and Sam Horton all played their part and for these youngsters experience at this level will be invaluable next season.
This Saturday is Easter Saturday and there is no game.
On April 2nd Leek entertains Dudley Kingswinford at EsterChem Park. Kick-off is at 3pm.
On April 9th Leek travels to Hereford for their final away match of the season.
April 16th is the final league match of the season at EsterChem Park when Kenilworth are the visitors. Kick-off is at 3pm. This is also a Beer Festival Day at the club.
On April 30th at EsterChem Park, Leek RUFC is proud to host their first ever Staffordshire County Championship match. Staffordshire v NLD ( Notts, Lincs, Derbys). Kick-off is at 3pm.
This is the opening game in the 2016 county championship campaign. Please come along and support the county team on this day. Out side bar and food available.