Sat 14
1st XV
Leek v Bridgnorth Match Report

Leek v Bridgnorth Match Report

By Michael Whitehouse
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Leek struggled to contain a committed Bridgnorth side for much of the game and despite finishing the stronger, the Moorlanders couldn't get the final score to match their Shropshire opponents which meant Bridgnorth moving into 3rd place as Leek slipped to

Leek started with Ben Smith on the right wing and he was the only change to the starting line up from last week.
Lucas Buxton, Matt Slinn and the returning Joe Taylor were on the bench.

Leek's fly half Gary McDermott opened the scoring on 7 minutes after the Bridgnorth line was penalised for pulling down. 3-0.
3 minutes later and a dropped pass within 5 metres of the Bridgnorth line was a story of what might have been for much of the next 60 minutes play. From the ensuing scrum on Bridgnorth's 22, a long kick into Leek's 22 saw a strong pass knocked on. As the visitors back row followed up, they recovered the loose ball and drove blind to score the try. It went unconverted, but at 3-5, Leek had only themselves to blame for imprecision.

Leek's lineout was poor all day as it failed to capitalise on a 14th minute penalty and line in Bridgnorth's 22 and then on 24 minutes, Leek's defence was under pressure on their own 5 meter line, but a loss of control saw the ball squirt out of the side for the alert George Hunt to sprint out of the 22 and pass to Nick Palmer. He kicked ahead and just lost the race for the touch in goal.
A minute later and McDermott had a chance to put Leek back into the lead with a penalty 40 metres out for hands in the ruck, but the attempt went wide.

As the game reached overtime at the end of the first half, Bridgnorth were exerting pressure by retaining ball in rucks and then a missed tackle allowed the scrum half to sneak over for a try. It was converted as the half time whistle blew and the 12-3 score line reflected the possession and control so far.

Joe Taylor came on at the start of the second half for the hard working Jamie Gordon and an injury to Nick Palmer on 46 minutes let Lucas Buxton come on the left wing.
A line out loss on 51 minutes midway inside the Leek half saw a Bridgnorth line move to the left wing. The ruck was formed and another blindside try was scored by the scrum half. The conversion missed but at 17-3, it was going to take a change of fortune for Leek to get anything from the game.

On 54 minutes Matt Slinn came onto the right wing for Ben Smith and it took until the 65th minute for a clean break by Jake Green to give Leek some hope. The speedy scrum half took off from the base of the scrum as he surprised the Bridgnorth back row. His pass found George Hunt and he attempted the kick and chase but the dead ball line beat him.

A couple of minutes later and the game suddenly changed when the Bridgnorth prop was yellow carded for slowing the ball within 10 metres of his line. It meant uncontested scrums as the front row replacement was already off injured. Some debate ensued about whether another Bridgnorth player should have left the field, but skipper Milner's request was rejected by the referee. Although under the posts and an easy 3 points beckoned, Milner opted for the scrum. From the scrum and subsequent ruck, Leek knocked on, but the Bridgnorth clearance allowed Jake Green to keep the pressure on with a kick to line within 7 metres of the Bridgnorth line.

Leek's raking defence, now playing with more urgency caused a turnover and McDermott was held up over the line. As the game entered the last 10 minutes, Shane Dicker was held up short of the line. On 76 minutes, with Leek pressing again, a dropped ball and a penalty for offside allowed Bridgnorth to clear. Leek won the ball back a minute later, won a penalty for slowing the ball again and gaining another 10 metres for talking back at the referee. This gave Leek the opportunity to keep the ball and set up a number of rucks before finally Andy McFadden burst over for the try. McDermott converted and at 10-17, Leek had a bonus point, but could they break the stubborn Bridgnorth defence again with 5 minutes of overtime to play? The yellow carded player came back on and that seemed to steady the Bridgnorth team as the final minutes played out in midfield without Leek being able to penetrate a tiring defence.

The result, along with Tamworth and Stafford victories meant Leek dropped a couple of places but only 5 points separates 7 sides and the competition remains committed and close. Even Stoke managed to drop their first bonus point when they were "held" to an only 20 point win at Spartans.
Next week is a free league Saturday,so Leek's next game sees them travel to Stoke on January 28th. Kick off is at 2.15pm.

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Match details

Match date

Sat 14, Jan 2012




Midlands 2 West (North)