OLD SALTLEIANS v LEEK MATCH REPORT
By Michael Whitehouse
Leek scored 7 tries at Old Salts on Saturday to record their 12th win of the season and maintain 4th place on 60 points against a tough Old Salts side fighting a relegation battle....
....and one which is looking increasingly difficult for them with 2 matches to play and 8 points behind Kidderminster.
Sam Hunt, Will Graham and Tom Scragg were the back 3 with James Floyd and Rob McDermott in the centre. Gary McDermott and Ollie Drew partnered at half back. Lee Williams, Ed Cheadle and Bobby Cheadle were in the front row and Andy Thompson joined Ben Barlow at lock as a training injury sidelined skipper Luke Hardern for the rest of the season. George Hunt, Joel Booth and Jack Conlon were in the back row.
Adam Smith, Kini Buli and Nick Palmer were on the bench.
On a firming pitch and good conditions for rugby, Leek were straight out of the blocks and scoring after 5 minutes. A penalty for holding on in the tackle enabled Rob McDermott to kick for touch deep in the Old Salts 22 on the left. Joel Booth took the catch and a great drive over the line saw Bobby Cheadle touch down. Sam Hunt pushed the conversion wide but Leek led early 0-5.
From the kick-off, superb Leek ball retention with the forwards making good ground followed by the backs passing well ended with another penalty on 9 minutes just outside the Old Salts 22. Skipper, Ed Cheadle elected Sam Hunt to take the penalty attempt and again Sam pushed the ball wide of the posts, landing just on the line. An Old Salts defender tried to trap the ball but it rebounded forward and the alert and following up George Hunt dived on the ball, regained his feet and went over to score without any other defender touching him. Great work by the flanker who was to have a man of the match performance. Brother Sam converted and Leek were 0-12 with 10 minutes played.
5 minutes later and Leek’s 3rd try was scored by Tom Scragg on the right wing after a scrum win on the left on half way. Jack Conlon rucked in centre field before passing right allowed Tom Scragg to beat his man and score. The conversion missed but Leek led 0-17.
After Old Salts spurned 3 points and then lost a lineout on 20 minutes in the Leek 22, an incident in the 24th minute led Joel Booth and the Old Salts fly half to be yellow carded.
4 minutes later and Old Salts converted a penalty under the Leek posts following concerted pressure and a penalty for offside. 3-17.
On 35 minutes, Bobby Cheadle was yellow carded for dropping the maul, but the election of the lineout led to a not straight and Leek cleared.
With 5 minutes of injury time played Old Salts had a penalty attempt miss following a Leek offside and then finally the 2 yellows came back on the field having spent a full 21 minutes on the sidelines. Still the first half didn’t end until the 10th minute of added time and Leek scored their 4th try from Jack Conlon who side stepped a defender after an Ollie Drew clearance kick and an Andy Thompson follow up gave Leek a penalty outside the Old Salts 22. George Hunt took a quick penalty setting up the passing for Jack Conlon to score. Sam Hunt converted to end the half with Leek now in a comfortable 3-24 lead.
Old Salts gave themselves hope when they scored next on 51 minutes with the excellent fly half finishing off a move he started with a clearance kick to the Leek 22. The conversion was good and at 10-24 it was game on.
However, Leek scored next on 57 minutes when Tom Scragg scored his 2nd try on the right after good rucking by Will Graham twice in the move and great passing by the backs setting Tom Scragg up on the right.
With Sam Hunt retired through injury, Gary McDermott stepped up to convert and Leek led 10-31.
From the kick-off, Joel Booth made a superb break. Will Graham took the pass and ran into the Old Salts 22. Good passing left found Kini Buli rounding his man for a great score. McDermott missed the conversion but at 10-36 on 59 minutes, it was a long way back for the Old Salts now.
Credit to them, they then scored 2 unconverted tries on 65 minutes and again on 77 minutes through the strong left wing to give themselves a chance for a losing bonus point. 20-36. But it was Leek which had the last score on 80 minutes with a sweeping move on the left leading to great passing on the right for James Floyd to score Leek’s 7th try under the posts. His drop kick conversion failed but at 20-41, it didn’t matter as the final whistle blew.
It had been a rather scrappy game despite the 10 tries and Leek will have been pleased to secure the bonus point win.
The top 5 sides all won, so no changes in position but this week, Leek welcome Spartans placed in 3rd spot and will be looking for revenge after the 11-10 loss there earlier in the season.
This is Leek’s final home league game of the season, so please come down and enjoy the day as the Gin festival gets under way as well.
The Grand National will be shown live on the big screen as well.