Sat 19
1st XV
Leek v Willenhall Match Report

Leek v Willenhall Match Report

By Michael Whitehouse
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Leek finally managed to gain their first try scoring bonus point, which happens when 4 tries are scored.

Indeed, Leek struck 8 times in this match to defeat a luckless but spirited Willenhall side that never gave up and scored twice themselves.

This game was rearranged and so with injuries and unavailabilities, Leek were without 6 first choice squad members.
Jamie Gordon retained his loose head prop position with Dave Ackerley and Luke Granger making up the front row. Luke Staton and Andy McFadden made up the unusual looking lock partnership with Matt Slinn, Ad Nettel and Neil Edge combining in the backrow.

Jake Green started at scrum half with Gary McDermott at 10. Dave Kennaway and George Hunt were in the centres and Ad Smith and Lucas Buxton were on the wings. Sam Hunt returned at full back.
The bench was made up of Tom Sims, Nick Palmer and the ageless Mick Smith, who, at the age of 51, was to become Leek's oldest league front row player.

The game kicked off in glorious sunshine with the pitch in a perfectly firm condition and if Leek could get the ball away from the imposing Willenhall forwards, then they had a chance of causing the much changed Willenhall backs some problems.

This started on 3 minutes when from a scrum in midfield, the Leek backs passed the ball to the incisive Sam Hunt. His offload to Ad Smith moving infield, set up a quick maul from which Matt Slinn ripped the ball, passed to Jake Green on the left and blindside wing, just inside the Willenhall half. His pace proved critical as he drew the defence and his inside pass to Gary McDermott beat the cover and the fly half ran in for a neat try. He converted his own try and Leek had started brightly at 7-0.

3 minutes later and only a dropped pass prevented Lucas Buxton from scoring the 2nd try as the backs ran and passed crisply along the line, but it took only 4 more minutes for that 2nd try to be scored, when from another midfield scrum, Sam Hunt broke into the line at pace and the defence couldn't catch him as he scored. McDermott converted and Leek led 14-0.

Leek's 3rd try came 2 minutes later in the 12th minute, after Willenhall's full back made a break and kicked into the Leek half. The bounce favoured Ad Smith though and his pass to Jake Green saw the scrum half sprint half the field to score his try. McDermott converted and at 21-0 with 13 minutes on the clock, it looked ominous for the visitors.

However, Leek switched off at this point and Willenhall switched on, using their big forwards to drive at the heart of Leek's forwards and then using the forwards again to tie up Leek's backs.
On 26 minutes, after constant pressure the Willenhall 8 crashed to the Leek line and looked to have scored a deserved try, but it was deemed held up and from the ensuing 5 metre scrum, Willenhall couldn't get over the Leek line and were eventually penalised and Leek cleared. The frustration of the Willenhall players threatened to boil over, but credit to the captain, who calmed his players and urged them on.

Willenhall's concentration lapsed after this effort and Leek came back into the game and scored their 4th try on 37 minutes, when following a ruck on half way, Luke Granger found himself in the centre position and his draw and pass to George Hunt, saw the young Leek centre outsprint the defence from the half way, to round the fullback and score under the posts. McDermott converted and the half wound down with Leek holding a commanding 28-0 lead.

At the half, Jake Green came off with a hamstring injury and Dave Kennaway moved back to scrum half with Nick Palmer coming into the centre.
Willenhall's coach saw the problem at half time and his team came out in the 2nd half with a renewed determination to keep the ball amongst the big forwards and make Leek tackle his big pack.
Matt Slinn had to come off on 45 minutes with a head injury and he was replaced by Tom Sims.
A minute later and an attempted run out by the Leek backs gave Willenhall the break they deserved when the ball was dropped and the alert centre picked the ball up and ran 30 metres for a simple try. The conversion missed, but at 28-5, the game wasn't over yet.

Willenhall's momentum was building and Leek had lost the initiative as possession and territory were conceded and on 58 minutes, it came as no surprise when Willenhall scored their 2nd try. Following constant driving by the forwards that eventually saw the defensive line sucked in, the Willenhall wing scored in the right corner. Again the conversion missed, but at 28-10, Leek needed to regain their discipline and move the ball quickly instead of trying to compete one on one with the Willenhall forwards.
On 63 minutes, 51 years old Mick Smith came on for Jamie Gordon in the front row and 2 minutes later, Leek were on the scoreboard again.

Willenhall's scrum in their own 22, saw a mix up between the scrum half and backrow. Neil Edge claimed the ball and quick hands across the line saw Lucas Buxton score his try in the corner. McDermott's conversion hit the bar and fail to go over, but Leek were up to 33-10.
From the kick off, McDermott kicked a long clearance kick downfield and as the Willenhall backs ran it back, Dave Ackerley intercepted and drove forward. His fine pass out of the tackle on half way was collected by Luke Granger and the hooker outsprinted the defence on the way to a fine try under the posts. McDermott converted and at 40-10, Leek could finally relax.

On 67 minutes, following a scrum just outside the Leek 22, simple passing saw George Hunt go on a 60 metre run to outsprint the defence again to score under the posts. The conversion was good again. 47-10.
Leek's last score came on 76 minutes when again simple support and good passing left Sam Hunt with a run in to score his 2nd try of the match and with the conversion, Leek had notched up 54 points to 10 and 8 tries with it.
To Willenhall's credit, they never stopped trying and although this defeat probably means relegation, they will recover as their excellent junior programme continues to bring on players for their senior teams.
For Leek, victory cemented 6th place and with defeats for Shrewsbury, AOE and Tamworth, they moved 5 points further clear of their mid-table rivals .
Stoke's victory moved them ahead of Stafford and Ludlow's win at Tamworth means they are moving closer to the title.

Breeze House Man of the Match was George Hunt.

Next Saturday sees Leek entertaining Stourbridge Lions at F Ball Park. Kick off is at 3pm. See you all there
Author John McDermott

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Match details

Match date

Sat 19, Mar 2011




Midlands 2 West (North)