The starting line up had again several changes with the front row made up of Bobby and Ed Cheadle along with Joe Newton Taylor . The regular locks returned with Ben Barlow and Luke Hardern with the back row starting with James Thompson , George Hunt and Jacob Bainbridge . Due to a mid week training injury to scrum half Drew ,was made unavailable ,which allowed experienced player Dan Needham to step in with Sam Hunt at fly half and ever adaptable player , Lee Williams to move to the inside centre spot alongside Floyd at outside centre and Varley and Bully on both wings with Jack Newton Taylor at full back . The subs bench was made up of Smith and Allen.
Spartans elected to play with the slope and for the first 10 minutes they camped in Leeks 22 with some excellent defence from Leek , once they were able to move into Spartans half they were able take the first points with a penalty from Sam Hunt to take a 0-3 lead . On 16 mins Spartans excellent line out work with a driving maul , which proved well executed all afternoon, allowed them to score the first try and successful conversion to move in front 7-3. From Leeks kick off ,a great catch from full back Jack NT allowed the ball to move to George Hunt who went on an excellent marauding run , only be high tackled , however the Ref allowed advantage and Leek forwards controlled the ball in several phases and went over to score under the posts and with a conversion went into the lead 7-10.
Due to the high tackle Spartans were then reduced to 14 men for the next 10 minutes and within a short period Leek took a further lead with a well worked try from a Leek line out from the half way line ,the ball was moved along the back line for the powerful winger Varley to gain ground and score in the corner, the conversion was missed but Leek took an 7-15 lead . For the next 5 minutes Spartans were on the attack and were clearly wanting to get some more points on the board and with the pressure they mounted they scored a try in the Leek corner , the difficult conversion was missed to move the score to 12-15 . Immediately from the Leek Kick off,
Jack N T caused problems at the catch with Leek now on the attack , however the referee saw a serious infringement and retaliation from a Spartans and Leek player, Bainbridge , and as a result both were both red carded. The last few minutes of the half also saw a knee injury to influential centre, Floyd, which caused him to be replaced by Smith who moved into the forwards and George Hunt moved to the centre . These changes did not affect the team and just on half time again from a leek line out to ball was moved through the hands for Jack NT to make one of his signature mazy runs to score a try and take a 12-20 lead at half time It was clear that the half time talk required clear heads with some positional changes to support the team and unfortunately shortly after the kick off Varley and a Spartans player were both involved in a tackle incident which caused both to suffer some degree of discussion and both players were removed from the pitch.
This allowed sub, Allen to move into the forwards and Smith to move into the backs , which was again going to test the adaptability of the squad . Leek were able to re group from the changes and though some excellent patient play by the forwards and command by Needham , prop ,Joe NT was able to score under the posts and with a converted conversion Leek took a 12-27 lead . However Spartans rallied and came back strong for the next 20 minutes as Leek were unable to secure some of their own line outs and manage certain parts of the game and quickly the score moved to 24-27 with 10 minutes left . In these last minutes of the game the Leek squad re grouped and again through some patient work from the players around creating the space , Sam Hunt side stepped a couple of players from 10 metres to score a try to extend the lead to 24-32 after a missed conversion.
Again Spartans came back and applied some forward pressure on the Leek team and through some excellent defence Leek were able to get the ball into the hands of Jack NT who from the half way line went on a superb run down the side line and missed a couple of tackles to score under the posts and convert the conversion to finish the game with Leek winning 24-39 and taking 5 points to move up the table . After the game coach Pickles said “ This was a great squad effort with several incidents which caused players to have to play in different positions , we concentrated for the full 80- minutes against a good Spartans team to allow us to take maximum points, a great confidence booster
Leek first team will now take a break next Saturday and will be next be playing at Esterchem Park on Saturday 1st December v Stafford with a 2-15pm kick off. Prior to this match will be the past captains lunch with the bar open from midday and food served from approx. 12-30pm.
Please keep viewing the club Facebook and website pages for games at home Saturday 24 th December and social events planned over the coming weeks.
Author Mark Hardern (Chairman)