Tamworth, to be fair, had several changes due to a player wedding on the day and they gave Leek a tough game throughout the match competing strongly in all phases before conceding 2 tries in the last 12 minutes that stretched Leek’s lead beyond reach.
Sam Horton started at full back with Matt Leadingham and Dan Sharratt making up the back 3.
Sam Hunt is back after a year out and together formed the midfield partnership with brother George. Ollie Drew and Gary McDermott were at half back.
Skipper Bobby Cheadle teamed up with brother Ed at hooker and Lee Williams in the front row. Ed Harrison and Phil Tomczak were at lock.
Simon Drew and Andy Thompson were on the flanks and Leek welcomed Joel Booth to the team as the former Leek junior and Longton captain took the No.8 spot.
Jack Conlon, Adam Smith and Reece Milner made up a strong replacement bench.
On a damp, still day Dan Sharratt was scoring Leek’s first try after 56 seconds following a quick tap penalty for an infringement at the ruck in Leek’s half. The ball was passed swiftly left allowing the wing to sprint in. Gary McDermott missed the conversion but Leek led early at 5-0.
It didn’t last long as Tamworth’s strong running inside centre bounced off 3 tackles following a scrum outside Leek’s 22. He powered his way to the line for a try which was duly converted to hand the home side a 7-5 lead on 6 minutes.
Tamworth had a chance to stretch the lead with a 13th minute penalty but the attempt went wide and that led to a Leek 22 drop out. Having turned the ball over, the Leek backs ran the ball to the Tamworth 22 and after a couple of rucks Ed Harrison burst through tackles and sprinted in from the 22 to score a try by the posts. This time McDermott converted and Leek retook the lead at 7-12 on 15 minutes.
Leek got into their stride now and 6 minutes later following a lineout on the Tamworth 22, good offloading had prop Lee Williams in the clear to score under the posts. McDermott converted and the lead moved to 7-19 on 21 minutes.
The rest of the first half was competitive with some good continuity but no further score from either side which meant the Moorlanders received their first half time talk from new coach Lee Pickles with a 7-19 lead.
It was Tamworth next to score on 49 minutes following a scrum in their own half. The right wing chipped neatly and collected outside the Leek 22 and good support from the No.8 inside saw him go in for a try which was converted to bring the home side back to 14-19.
From the kick off though, Leek wrestled possession back and following a couple of rucks the ball was passed right to left whereupon Sam Hunt deftly chipped the ball through for Dan Sharratt to collect and score his 2nd try on 51 minutes. McDermott converted and the score went to 14-26.
6 minutes later and Sam Hunt scored his try after a turnover in midfield left the Leek backs with space to run and pass with Hunt left in the clear to score. McDermott converted on 58 minutes and Leek were up to 14-33.
Credit to Tamworth, they didn’t give up and came back on 64 minutes with a deserved try by the left wing from a lineout on the right inside Leek’s 22 led to good continuity and retention leaving the defence outstretched. The conversion was good and at 21-33, it was still game on.
However from the kick off again, Leek scored their 6th try. Tamworth’s players couldn’t collect the ball and quick thinking by George Hunt had him picking the ball up and sprinting through under the posts. McDermott converted on 67 minutes. 21-40.
The final score came with the last play on 82 minutes following a scrum on Tamworth’s 22. Great retention right led to space on the left and Adam Smith was on the end of the move to score in the left corner. McDermott converted to complete the scoring at 21-47 and end the first league match of the season.
Other Results in Midlands 2 West (N)
Shrewsbury 25 – 22 Old Yardleians
Stafford 14 – 12 Old Saltleians
Stourbridge Lions 41 – 0 Newcastle
Veseyans 16 – 18 Kidderminster
Walsall 30 – 23 Camp Hill