With relegation already confirmed and Kenilworth sitting comfortably above the drop zone, it was a game without pressure and both sides tried to play an expansive game on a drying pitch.
Leek was on the scoreboard on 7 minutes after they won a penalty for not rolling away at the tackle. Gary McDermott kicked the goal for an early 3-0 lead.
From the kick-off, Leek conceded a penalty for in at side of ruck after a charge down but the penalty attempt went wide and then on 18 minutes McDermott doubled Leek’s lead with another successful penalty after Kenilworth was penalised at the ruck and then backchat gave the fly half an extra 10 metres and Leek was at 6-0.
It got better for leek then on 21 minutes when they scored their first try. From a lineout on Kenilworth’s 10 metre line, the ball was successfully offloaded in the tackle a couple of times before the ball was switched blindside where James Floyd burst through and set up and gave a great pass to left wing Dan Sharratt who scored in the left corner. The conversion from McDermott was excellent and Leek led 13-0.
On 25 minutes Leek’s free running backs had Nick Palmer closing in on a try but he knocked on with the line beckoning.
Kenilworth had their first meaningful try attempt from a 5 metre line on 36 minutes but a knock on close to the Leek line ended the opportunity and the half time whistle came with the Moorlanders holding a good lead at 13-0.
The 2nd half opened with some ambition from Leek out of defence on 46 minutes but the ball was lost forward and Kenilworth should have scored in the pickup but the final pass was knocked on.
The next 20 minutes saw Kenilworth gaining the upper hand and culminated on 66 minutes with their try. A clearance kick was well fielded by the Kenilworth left wing who ran the ball back strongly. The Leek defence committed right and as the ball span wide left, the No.8 went over for an unopposed score. The try remained unconverted but at 13-5, the game was in the balance.
Leek then made certain of the game on 71 minutes with a great try from a scrum on the Kenilworth 10 metre line. After an initial fall, McDermott created a ruck and then James Floyd burst through a couple of tackles and made a pass inside to Liam McDermott. His inside pass found Matt Leadingham and the youngster made the line and had the presence of mind to touch down after the tackle reaching forward in one movement. The conversion missed but at 18-5 with 8 minutes to go, it seemed the game was beyond the visitors now.
However, Leek managed to give themselves a hard time by receiving 2 yellow cards. Firstly from the kick-off, leek ran the ball back strongly and Jason Milner made the try line and touched down but rightly refused a try for a double movement. In the act of taking a quick penalty, Nick Palmer late tackled the scrum half and was yellow carded and then from the next penalty Phil Tomczak was yellow carded for interference as the ball was kicked forward.
The final few minutes still had Leek defending well though and Kenilworth couldn’t find an answer to the determined home side defence and Leek ran out 18-5 winners.
The win wasn’t enough to move them up a place as Silhillians beat Hereford and in a twist of fate Walsall beat Burton so that the bottom 3 sides all won on the same day for the first time in the season.
Champions elect are Bridgnorth and congratulations to them for a fine season coming up from Midlands 2 and winning Midlands 1 at the first time of asking.
Leek will move down to Midlands 2 West North next season and will be hoping that the 2 years’ experience in Midlands 1 will help them get back to move winning ways.
Thanks to everyone for their hard work this season and enjoy the break before the pre-season kicks in.
Please also remember to come and support Staffordshire on Saturday April 30th at EsterChem Park when NLD are the visitors in the county championship.
It is the first time Leek has held such a match and it should be a great day with outside bar and BBQ. Bring your friends and family for an entertaining afternoon including a local folk band on in the marquee after.
Author John McDermott