….never to relinquish the lead and deservedly held on for a hard fought win with Leek picking up a losing bonus point as well.
Tom Scragg was back on the wing with Kini Bulli and Nick Palmer making up the back 3. George and Sam Hunt continued in the centres with Gay McDermott and Dan Needham at half back. Adam Smith joined Bobby and Ed Cheadle in the front row and Ben Barlow and Luke Hardern were at lock. Andy Thompson, Jack Conlon and Joel Booth made up the back row.
Jake Bainbridge, Will Graham and Matt Leadingham were on the bench.
Leek started against the wind 1st half on a sunny, breezy afternoon. Both sides were into their stride early and both defences tested in earnest close to their own lines and prevailed against unimaginative attacking.
The forwards were engaged in a tough physic all battle all afternoon and both sets stuck to their task with credit and so it was no surprise that the game was scoreless until Gary McDermott had the first chance on 26 minutes following a penalty for mouthing at the referee, but his attempt went wide.
On 33 minutes, Leek kicked clear from their own 22 to over half way and then the excellent counter attack exposed Leek’s right flank allowing the open side forward a sprint in down the touchline from the Leek 22. The conversion missed but CB had opened the scoring at 5-0.
Dan Needham sustained a ham string injury before half time and it meant Kini Bulli moving to 9 as Will Graham came on.
The half ended with no further score at 5-0.
CB started the 2nd half on the front foot and from a lineout on the left just inside Leek’s half, good movement by the CB backs allowed the right wing enough of an opening to score a fine try in the right corner. The conversion missed but CB led 10-0.
Leek needed some luck and inspiration and the next 10 minutes provided nearly all the possession and penalties close to the CB line led to a couple of lineout drives well held by a solid, organised defence. Then on 52 minutes, an attempted clearance by CB ricocheted off the prop and into touch again for a 5 metre line to Leek. This time, with patience and skill, the forwards rucked well, then produced a maul and Bobby Cheadle crashed over for Leek’s 1st try. McDermott couldn’t add the extras but at 10-5, it was game on.
Leek were still dominating and thought they had another try on 62 minutes after Kini Bulli combined with Nick Palmer which saw McDermott go over under the posts but in the move a knock on spotted by the referee brought play back for a scrum to CB.
CB then produced the winning score on 69 minutes after absorbing Leek’s best pressure when poor tackling down the left and some good link up play saw the open side forward score his 2nd try.
The conversion was good and CB led 17-5 with 10 minutes to go.
Leek reacted strongly with Kini Bulli leading the charge and he crashed over for a ty after Matt Leadingham made a fine break following a clearance kick on 75 minutes. Incredibly McDermott missed the conversion under the posts in his haste to restart the game but at 17-10, Leek still had a chance to draw level. Throwing everything at the home side now, Leek had a last-minute opportunity from a 5 metre lineout but strong defence again denied the Moorlanders and CB held on for a deserved 1st win in the league.
A tough day for Leek’s 1st XV but a point won nevertheless and CB will prove a tough place to visit for most visitors this season.
This Saturday, Leek entertains Crewe & Nantwich at EsterChem Park with a 3pm KO.
It is also the beer festival weekend, so please come to the club and enjoy the hospitality which starts on Friday night with the Pig Racing.
The following week, 28th October, sees Leek in the 3rd round of the Intermediate Cup with venue and opposition to be decided this week.