Sat 15
1st XV
Telford Hornets


By Michael Whitehouse
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The last game of 2018 produced a bonus point win for Leek against a courageous Telford side that ended the game with 13 men.

The conditions can only be described as abysmal with the rain not ceasing at all during the game and then it was visited by Storm Deirdre midway thought the 2nd half and to top it all the temperature seemed to flirt with zero degrees for most of the 80 minutes.
Typical winter's day in the Moorlands!
In the circumstances both sets of players are to be congratulated, along with the referee, for the level of skill and commitment shown and when the final whistle blew, it was the fastest anyone saw the players running back to the changing rooms in a long time.

Isaac Reaney started at full back with Adam Varley and Kini Buli on the wings. Tom Scragg was back at centre with George Hunt. Sam Hunt and Dan Needham were at half back.
Ed Cheadle, Bobby Cheadle and Joe Newton Taylor were in the front row and skipper Luke Hardern was partnered by Andy Thompson at lock.
Last week's backrow was retained enabling Billy Kidd and Tom Fairhurst to flank alongside Joel Booth at No. 8.
James Thomson, Lewis Dunleavy and Ollie Drew were on the bench.

Telford started well and had Leek defending for the opening 15 minutes as the Shropshire side retained the ball well and had a couple of dangerous positions in the Leek 22. However, this week, Leek didn't concede and kept their discipline until a break from Sam Hunt on his own 22 after a ruck left Kini Buli with a pass wide left about 40 metres from goal. The Leek wing used his quick feet to sidestep tackles and then the space opened for him to sprint in by the posts for the opening try. Sam Hunt converted and Leek led 7-0, against the run of play up until then.
Telford had a chance on 26 minutes after a good break from the excellent fly half but Kini Buli put in a great tackle to stop the imminent danger. Nevertheless, Leek was penalised for slowing the ball at the ruck and with no advantage coming, the referee yellow carded George Hunt.

Telford opted for the scrum on Leek's 5 metre line but then knocked on and were offside allowing Leek to clear.
Skipper Luke Hardern injured his calf soon after and had to be replaced by James Thomson. Sam Hunt made a telling break into Telford's 22 but a knock on allowed Telford to clear for a Leek lineout on the Telford 22 on the right. Dan Needham made a break through the forwards before offloading to Billy Kidd who sped to the Telford line to score Leek's 2nd try. On 34 minutes. Sam Hunt converted again and Leek led 14-0.
Just before the break a Telford back was yellow carded for a high tackle in the red zone but Leek couldn't take advantage and the half time whistle blew with Leek holding a 14-0 lead.
The weather was so bad the players opted to take the break in the changing rooms at half time.
Leek started the 2nd half well and were on the scoreboard again inside 3 minutes of the restart. A penalty allowed Leek to kick for the lineout on Telford's 22. Then another penalty had Dan Needham take a quick tap and the alert Lewis Dunleavy was on hand to take the pass and score Leek's 3rd try. Again Sam Hunt converted and Leek led 21-0.

In all of this time Telford struggled with injuries and positional changes and the pressure on them mounted in this phase as Leek controlled the game well. It culminated in the 4th try on 47 minutes when great handling on the left then gave Tom Scragg enough space to show his skills and pace as he shrugged off a tackle and then sprinted into the in goal for a superb try. Sam Hunt converted his 4th and Leek led 28-0.
Tom Scragg was on the scoresheet again within 3 minutes as he sprinted through the gap made for him by the excellent inside backs. His score on the right after 50 minutes was not converted but Leek led 33-0 and seemingly on their way to a very big score.
When the 6th try was scored on 59 minutes by Dan Needham after James Thomson went on a charging run to set up a ruck close to the line for Needham to collect and crash over, it seemed to confirm it would be a very difficult last quarter for Telford. Sam Hunt missed this conversion as Leek increased the lead to 38-0.

The final quarter though didn't produce any further Leek scores but it did see Telford get a consolation try on 63 minutes after good hands on the right found a gap for the big centre to sprint through and score. The conversion missed and at 38-5 there was to be no further score as the weather closed in and the game finished bang on time for the sprint into the changing rooms and a hot cup of tea.

Leek can be pleased to get a win again and it maintains the Moorlanders in 5th place on 33 points. The players can now take a break for Christmas and get ready for a tough 2nd half of the season.
It starts on January 5th with an away match at Walsall where the Staffs side now play on an all-weather pitch. It should make for an interesting game.

Before that on Boxing Day, it is the annual clash between the Vets and 3rd team with all members who want a run around invited to bring their kit and enjoy a festive match. Please arrive as early as possible - from 10am for an 11am start.

From all at the club, have a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.
Author John McDermott

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Match details

Match date

Sat 15, Dec 2018




Midlands 2 West (North)