After an opening day win against Old Yards, Shrewsbury came to Leek on the back of a 7 game losing streak and from the 2nd minute, it didn’t look as though that was about to change.
George Hunt was back at 12 and scoring on 2 minutes after Luke Hardern had been on two strong runs from the kick-off and Leek had then won a 5 metre lineout. The ball came into midfield
where Hunt was not held in the tackle but he got to his feet quickly and sprinted under the posts for the opening try. Gary McDermott duly converted to hand Leek an early 7-0 lead.
Leek’s determination to run the ball had the Shrewsbury defence at full stretch but credit to the visitors they spoiled a lot of attacking promise from Leek until on 18 minutes Leek had their first scrum.
It was on Shrewsbury’s 10 metre line. McDermott saw an inside gap, passed to George Hunt and it looked like he would go all the way after a couple of neat sidesteps but was tackled near the line.
Young Elliot Anderson, starting his first game at senior league level was on hand to accept the offload and touch down for his first senior try under the posts.
McDermott converted and the score was up to 14-0.
From the kick-off though, Leek conceded a penalty for being on the wrong side of the tackle and the Shrewsbury fullback made no mistake to give his side their first points of the day. 14-3.
Leek’s 3rd try came on 26 minutes after Anderson barged his way through a number of attempted tackles. Setting the ruck on the right wing, the ball was handled nicely across the line where
George Hunt’s pass to Matt Leadingham had the young fullback cutting inside to score a great try.
McDermott’s conversion missed but Leek extended their lead to 19-3.
On 33 minutes Joel Booth was yellow carded as the referee may have misheard a call by a Shrewsbury player and Shrewsbury took advantage of this slotting 2 penalties on 38 minutes
and in the 5th minute of added time. The first of these made easier by backchat from Leek after a scrum offence and the second for slowing the ruck ball.
Both attempts were well hit by the full back to end the first half at 19-9 with Shrewsbury back in the game on the back of a loss of concentration by Leek.
The 2nd half opened with a McDermott penalty miss on 43 minutes. It hit the post but no-one was backing up to pressure the defence. 6 minutes later though, a change of tactic saw McDermott kick a
penalty for the lineout just in the Shrewsbury 22 after an offside decision.
The lineout win on the right then led to some superb handling in the backs before Kini Buli and Matt Leadingham combined to put the fullback over for his 2nd try of the day.
The conversion missed but Leek had their try bonus point as the score ticked to 24-9.
A similar process occurred on 60 minutes as McDermott pushed a Leek penalty for a lineout on the Shrewsbury 22. New fullback Dan Sharratt was the recipient of the final pass as he crashed over on the left for the 5th try. McDermott converted and Leek was up to 31-9.
The full back then scored his 2nd try on 71 minutes after Shrewsbury’s clearance saw the Leek forwards and backs combine up the centre of the field. Finally Dan Needham got to within a metre of the line.
The ball was lost at the base of the ruck but the attempted clearance ricocheted back to a grateful Sharratt who scored by the posts. McDermott converted at 38-9.
Elliot Anderson could have scored a couple of minutes later but a fine tackle by the fullback stopped a certain score otherwise.
Then on 79 minutes, another flowing move from their own 22 had 5 or 6 Leek players supporting a fast move with some great offloads before Joel Booth popped up to score in the left corner.
McDermott missed the conversion and Leek was up to 43-9.
There was time for one more score as Shrewsbury faded. It was another length of the field move as the rampant Leek players offloaded at will before Gary McDermott cut inside from the left wing
to score the final try which he converted himself.
The final whistle blew with Leek reaching 50 points. 50-9.
Ed Cheadle and the front row must be given credit also for their work at the breakdown and in defence alongside a hard working backrow of Simon Drew, Andy Thompson and Joel Booth.
Although some of the offloading and passing didn’t come off, coach Lee Pickles’ methods are beginning to reap rewards as the confidence among the squad increases.
Leek has a week’s break before visiting Stafford on December 10th and then on December 17th , the Moorlanders entertain league leaders Stourbridge Lions. Both games kick off at 2.15pm.
The win keeps Leek in 4th spot with 32 points. Walsall maintained their 3 point advantage over Leek in 3rd with a home win against Old Salts. 35 points.
The top 2 teams, Camp Hill and Stourbridge Lions fought out a thriller as the Lions held sway at Camp Hill by 45-55. Camp Hill remain 2nd on 37 points with Stourbridge stretching to 42 points.
Kidderminster beat Stafford to maintain 5th place and Tamworth won at Veseyans for 6th. Newcastle beat Old Yards to jump from 12th to 10th as Shrewsbury’s defeat left them in 12th place now.
Finally, it is with sadness the club reports the passing of Colin Brass, a Leek 1st team player from the 1960s. He was 81. He was fondly remembered at the club on Saturday by contemporaries and the club was
represented at his funeral by life member John Adams last week.
Saturday with a packed house for Ladies Day – 31 ladies sat down for lunch – and the match was sponsored by Rich Mounsey who brought a large group of supporters.
Well done to all the volunteers on the day and thank you to all sponsors and supports.
Author John McDermott