There were three changes to last week as injured George Hunt was replaced by Lee Williams, Dave Ackerley coming back as hooker for Charlie Futcher and Luke Staton back as No 8 for flanker Matt Slinn with Ollie Drew on the bench.
The game started with Tamworth kicking straight into touch and Leek securing possession only to give away a forward pass. From this scrum Tamworth kicked into the corner and as the Leek throw was not straight, it gave the huge Tamworth pack a chance to scrummage and drive Leek over the line. After several penalties and scrums against Leek in this position Leek were able to hold out and clear to touch. This showed that Leek were able to cope pretty well in the scrums and they did so throughout the game.
After 7 minutes Leek were awarded a penalty for Jake Green to put Leek 0-3 up which was followed by the first of Leek’s three failures to secure kick-offs and settle the team in to a rhythm. From the ensuing ruck Leek cleared but shortly after Tamworth levelled the score 3-3 when Leek were offside.
After a fine break by Sam Hunt Leek were penalised on the Tamworth line for falling over the ball. The home side cleared and within minutes were breaking through and and forcing Leek to concede two penalties which they ran quickly. On 23 minutes after a driving maul and a scrum five which Leek defended well Tamworth moved the ball wide and the centre scored an unconverted try wide out. 8-3
In the next ten minutes Leek were trying to mount attacks but were not having enough clean possession and time on the ball to turn that into points. With the referee’s interpretation of the laws not helping Leek Jake Green only managed to convert one penalty from 2 chances to see the half-time score at 8-6
Within a minute of the restart Leek conceded another penalty from the kick-off and saw Tamworth lead 11-6. Fortunately from a scrum in midfield Gary McDermott‘s break and pass to Andy McFadden who drove on upfield to offload for winger Ian Harris to score and level the scores 11-11
At the kick off Leek immediately dropped the ball and were penalised for offside giving the Tamworth kicker and easy chance to go back in the lead 14-11. Matt Slinn replaced Luke Staton in the back row
As the game went on Leek were able to keep possession better and create more chances. However, after a late tackle and penalty chance which saw the home side hit the post, Leek cleared the danger and began to look more confident. Then as Leek defended several attacks captain Jason Milner was sin-binned for dropping a scrum bringing Dave Ackerley back on as prop after being replaced by Charley Futcher at half-time and Ian Harris having to go off.
Leek’s 14 men defended well and made sure Tamworth did not have an easy time. Both sides were trying to move the ball but too many attacks broke down and penalties were given to each side. In one of Leek’s attacks a great advantage was lost close to Tamworth line when a penalty for Leek was reversed. The referee saw Charley Futcher’s rucking to be over vigorous when Tamworth killed the ball which stopped Leek continuing the attack. The penalty allowed them to clear a dangerous try scoring opportunity for Leek
Both kickers exchanged penalties in the closing minutes first Tamworth for Leek going over the ball 17-11 and then Jake Green added another for 17-14. Leek were attacking until the end as Olly Drew came on for Ian Harris but time ran out for him and Leek to make any difference to the score.
Leek’s final league position was fifth and a step up from last year--Tamworth were 4th and Bridgnorth 3rd after losing. Leek would have been 3rd if they had won as only 3 points separated the teams. At the end of a terrific season for Leek’s young team this position in this league is excellent.
Leek are scheduled to play Buxton at home this Saturday 3pm ko unless Buxton win a cup semi-final to be played on Wednesday night.
Leek 2xv are playing Linley in the Olly Smith memorial match at Bathpool Park 3.30pm
Author Gareth Jones