The 18 man squad from last week’s Old Salts game was intact except for the return of Luke Hardern at lock who replaced the injured Ed Harrison.
However, Leek’s rising back row star, Reece Milner, was injured in the warm up and that meant Phil Tomczak starting at lock with Ben Barlow moving from lock to back row.
Veteran director of rugby Neil Edge had to be called up to the bench for cover in the back row.
It was a perfect day for rugby, a firm pitch and no wind but it was the visitors that started brightly.
2 minutes in and a penalty for offside had Old yards with a lineout on Leek’s 5 metre line. Leek infringed at the maul and OYs opted for the 5 metre scrum.
The more compact Leek 8 then disrupted the OYs scrum and won a penalty to clear.
6 minutes later after a couple of unforced Leek errors OYs had a chance to take the lead with a penalty for offside but the attempt went wide.
Finally Leek were moving on 10 minutes from a quick tapped penalty that had Tom Scragg on the right wing looking to set up the ruck but good defence saw the ball stripped and cleared.
It was obvious that OYs had improved dramatically from their early season form and their recent results were proving that they were confident in their own ability and playing with a sound disciplined game plan.
Leek knew they were in a tough match and needed to be patient to figure a way through.
The result came on 17 minutes with a scrum on half way centre field. A pick up and drive by No.8 Joel Booth into the open side was followed by a quick ruck then scrum half Ollie Drew switched play for Tom Scragg
to go on a strong run into the OYs 22. Another quick ruck later and Luke Hardern was on the ned of the pass to crash over the line for the opening try. Gary McDermott converted and on
18 minutes Leek led 7-0.
The lead lasted 2 minutes.
Ollie Drew’s high kick onto the OYs 22 was met by Matt Leadingham and his opposite wing. The OYs wing caught it and sped off down the right wing, handing 2 Leek defenders off before scoring by the posts.
The conversion was good and it was 7 all.
Leek’s lineout had not been working well and for all their positional play Leek couldn’t exert the authority required and OYs continued to frustrate the Moorlanders, but on 31 minutes Gary McDermott slotted a penalty
when OYs failed to release in the tackle on their own 22. 10-7.
Then came the decisive minutes of the game.
Either side of half time, Leek scored 4 tries in 8 minutes.
On 38 minutes, the OYs flanker was yellow carded as he prevented Ollie Drew from releasing the ball from the ruck on the OYs line. Leek opted for the scrum and then after couple of quick rucks, Joel Booth set up the maul under the posts.
The Leek forwards quickly gathered and drove over the line for Luke Hardern to score his 2nd try of the match. McDermott converted and it was 17-7.
2 minutes later and following a scrum near half way, superb interplay with backs and forwards passing and offloading with great hands from Tom Scragg and Nick Palmer had Leek with a ruck about 8 meters out. Them Lee Williams
Arrived on the scene and crashed through 3 defenders for a great try. McDermott converted, the half time whistle blew with Leek now leading 24-7.
See attached photo of Lee on the charge supported by back row forwards Joel Booth, left and Ben Barlow, right)
Leek received the kick off as the 2nd half got underway and again some fantastic continuity had the OYs struggling to contain the free flowing Leek team.
Eventually a ruck in the OYs 22 on the left then allowed the Leek backs a simple passing phase for Nick Palmer to exploit the gap and score Leek’s 4th and bonus point try with 2 minutes gone of the half.
McDermott converted at 31-7.
Same again from the kick off as Leek retained the ball and just ran and passed it all over the field before Sam Hunt found a gap on the OYs 22 and he sprinted in under the posts. McDermott converted and at 38-7, it looked
like Leek may turn in a big score.
However, the Old boys steadied the ship and credit to them, they never lost their shape nor did they panic as they hit back at Leek coming close on 52 minutes but a knock on spoiled a good chance.
6 minutes later OYs were over the Leek line but adjudged held up and from the resulting scrum. Ed Cheadle was yellow carded as he illegally stopped the ball coming out of the ruck following the next scrum. The
OY forwards wouldn’t be denied as after a couple of rucks close to the line after the line out option was taken, they crashed over for a deserved 2nd try.
The conversion missed. 38-12.
The remaining quarter proved pointless and credit to Old Yards for not conceding with Leek lacking in ideas to crack a solid defence with the game won.
It had not been a vintage home effort, OYs proving very difficult to beat, but 5 tries and a bonus point were good enough to keep the momentum going for Leek and they now have a week off to prepare for the next 3 games.
On March 25th they travel to Shrewsbury.
On April 1st Stafford visit EsterChem Park
The trip to Stourbridge Lions is on April 8th.
Stourbridge won at Veseyans to maintain the 4 point gap over Leek at the top and Camp Hill beat Stafford to remain only 3 points behind Leek in 3rd.
Walsall beat Tamworth in the battle for 4th and 5th.
Kidderminster steadied their season with a home win against Shrewsbury and Old Salts won a thriller at Newcastle to maintain their recent improvement.
Next Week sees the 80th birthday of club stalwart John Adams who has spent 60 years at the club and is still volunteering for duties.
If you see him at the club this weekend, please congratulate him and get him one of those non-alcoholic beers he likes drinking.
This Saturday, March 18th, sees the climax of the 6 Nations with all 3 games following each other.
All 3 are live on the big screens at the club.
Get down and watch the chance to see England create history if they can beat Ireland.
It would be a world record 19 wins in a row and also a back to back Grand slam 1st timer in the 6 Nations.
Scotland v Italy 12-30 hrs
France v Wales 14-45 hrs
Ireland v England 17-00 hrs