Rob McDermott, Tom Scragg and Will Graham stated as the back 3 with Nick Palmer and Gary McDermott at centre. Sam Hunt and Ollie Drew were at half back.
Bobby Cheadle, Ed Cheadle and returning Lee Williams were in the front row with Ben Barlow and Luke Hardern at lock. Andy Thompson, Joel Booth and George Hunt were in the back row.
On the bench, Leek had Kini Bulli, Luke Staton and Jake Bainbridge.
On a great day for rugby, it was preceded by a one minute’s silence for the fallen on the 99th anniversary of the Armistice.
Leek were on the front foot from the kick off and on 4 minutes were on the score board after a line out in the Whitchurch 22 went askew but although the call wasn’t read, Leek secured the ball and dove all the way over the line for skipper Luke Hardern to claim the try. Gary McDermott converted and Leek led early 7-0.
Leek continued to dominate the game as the visitors infringed around the ruck and on 16 minutes the flanker was yellow carded for interference and McDermott increased Leek’s lead with the penalty. 10-0.
Whitchurch’s first real danger came on 20 minutes after a missed tackle and then a 5 metre lineout but Leek cleared. Then Whitchurch stated to possess the ball and Leek’s defence was tested but the hosts wee a match at this point and turned the game again as Leek pressed for another try near the end of the half. Great Whitchurch defence kept the Moorlanders out but the dominant Leek scrum finally won a kickable penalty on 40 minutes and McDermott increased the lead to 13-0 as the 1st half ended.
The 2nd half opened with Whitchurch in determined mood and a noticeable upping of the tempo and were rewarded on 52 minutes with a try on the left as the Leek defence was caught out by a quickly taken penalty and good hands saw the overlap converted into a try by the left wing.
The conversion missed but at 13-5, the. The game was on.
4 minutes later and the excellent Whitchurch 8 scored a try running through Leek’s defence after a turnover on half way. The conversion was good and at 13-12, the momentum had changed.
Could Leek wrestle back control? The answer was no as on 60 minutes, Whitchurch scored their 3rd try, a penalty try from a driving maul off the lineout which the Leek forwards tried illegally to halt. The referee rightly giving Whitchurch the try and automatic conversion to lift them into the lead at 13-19.
Leek needed the ball and on 65 minutes had a chance after they won a penalty and then a lineout in the Whitchurch 22. A try looked possible but a knock on stopped the move.
On 72 minutes a Gary McDermott penalty nudged Leek to 16-19 and the last 10 minutes were played at a frantic pace as Whitchurch tried to secure their 4th ty and Leek position to get a penalty.
Neither side quite managed it and the whistle went with both sides having played superbly.
In the end the league leaders deserved their win and Leek know what they have to do to match their rivals as the season moves on.
This week, Leek travel to Southwell in the 4th round of the Midlands Intermediate Cup. Kick-off is at 2pm.
Author John McDermott