There were a few changes to the side that lost to Droitwich in the cup last week with Will Graham starting at full back and Matt Leadingham and Tom Scragg on the wings.
Gay McDermott and Nick Palmer were in the centres and Sam Hunt and Kini Buli were at half back.
Bobby Cheadle, Ed Cheadle and Lee Williams made up the front row but with the unavailability of skipper Luke Harder, Ben Barlow was partnered by Andy Thompson at lock.
Jack Conlon was at No8 with Luke Staton and George Hunt on the flanks.
Luke Granger, Adam Smith and Harry Saunders were on the bench.
It was a still, dank day with underfoot conditions sticky as the game kicked off. Leek started well but making mistakes as they got into the Cleobury 22 until on 11 minutes, Will Graham fielding a clearance kick made a great break, linked up with Sam Hunt whose chip to the left corner found Matt Leadingham. He caught the ball as he leapt up but knocked on when he hit the ground. Unfortunate end but promising for Leek.
On 18 minutes, Leek won a penalty for back chat and Gary McDermott kicked for a lineout on the right in the Cleobury 22. A good catch and patient drive saw Lee Williams crash over for a try as the first quarter ended but Sam Hunt’s conversion went wide. 5-0.
4 minutes later, Leek thought they had a 2nd try when a chip to the corner saw a foot race which Tom Scragg thought he had won for the touch down but the referee correctly awarded a 22 having not seen the touch down.
On 30 minutes, Leek were dominating but taking a couple of wrong options until a penalty allowed another lineout in the Cleobury 22 and this time from the catch and drive, Jack Conlon went over for Leek’s 2nd try. Sam Hunt converted and Leek were up to 12-0.The half ended with Leek attacking again through Will Graham but a knock on prevented another chance.
Half Time –12-0.
Jack Conlon and Will Graham had played well in the first half but more patience was required with ball in hand to exert more pressure on opposition that was struggling to make many concerted attacking phases.
Cleobury started the 2nd half well and scored a penalty in the opening minute when Leek was caught offside midway in their own half. A well struck penalty reduced the arrears to 12-3.
Leek then got back to dominating possession but couldn’t find the way through as Harry Saunders came on with 52 minutes gone. Matt Leadingham moved to full back and immediately got on the score sheet after some superb handling on the left and then quick rucks by Ad Smith and Luke Granger in centre field set up an overlap on the right which Leadingham exploited to score well. The conversion missed but Leek extended their lead to 17-3.
As the 3rd quarter opened Cleobury had their best chance to get back in the game. Good handling following a break had the forwards up to Leek’s 5 metre line. Leek’s defence held and then the Leek forwards pinched the ball to clear. As it did, a fight broke out and yellow cards were shown to Ben Barlow and a Cleobury back
From the scrum on 65 minutes, Leek made a superb break along their line and Sam Hunt made the decisive kick into Cleobury’s 22. His follow up just failed as the ball bobbled away from him but Leek forced a lineout in Cleobury’s 22 and from the resulting catch and drive the visiting forwards managed to stop the momentum but Luke Granger peeled off with the ball and crashed over for Leek’s 4th and bonus point try. Sam Hunt converted and Leek was up to 24-3.
On 76 minutes, Leek won a scrum outside the Cleobury 22 and after great support play by forwards and backs, Lee Williams was on hand to score the final try of the day and his 2nd. The conversion missed but at 29-3 it had been a satisfying result and performance from Leek against a brave, young side which tried everything it could to stay in the game and they are to be congratulated for doing exactly that.
Leek’s win consolidated 4th place and 41 points and was the first time they had put back to back bonus point winning games together.
This week, Leek travel to 2nd placed Crewe & Nantwich. Kick-off is at 2.15pm
Then on February 10th, the rearranged home fixture against Old Saltleians takes place at EsterChem Park. Kick-off is 2.15pm. It will be followed by showing the4 England Wales 6 Nations game live on the TVs.
Author John McDermott