NEWCASTLE v LEEK MATCH REPORT
By Michael Whitehouse
Leek continued their winning streak in league and cup with a bonus point at neighbours Newcastle.
The win means Leek retain 4th place in the league as they extended their unbeaten run to 7 matches in league and cup.
Sam Hunt, Jack Newton Taylor and Kini Buli were the back 3. Nick Palmer and Tom Scragg partnered in the centres. Isaac Reaney and Dan Needham were at half back. Bobby Cheadle, Ed Cheadle and Joe Newton Taylor were in the front row with skipper Luke Hardern and Andy McFadden at lock. Billy Kidd, Jack Lawlor and Joel Booth made up the back row.
Adam Varley, Jake Bainbridge and Ollie Drew were on the bench.
On a hard ground with the wind blowing mainly across the pitch, Leek got off to a flying start with a try on 3 minutes. Isaac Reaney's grubber kick found touch outside Newcastle's 22 and from the line, Newcastle could only find touch on their 22. The Leek forwards won their lineout, drove inside with a couple of rucks before coming back blind on the left allowing Jack Newton Taylor a run at the last defender. He sidestepped inside to score a great try. Sam Hunt missed the conversion but Leek led early 0-5.
The next 20 minutes were pretty even with both sides probing but generally defences on top until on the 29th minute Leek won a penalty for offside. The kick for the lineout had Leek about 10 metres from the home line on the left. The forwards picked up the pace and a series of rucks near the Leek line saw Ollie Drew go close before the referee awarded Leek a penalty under the posts for slowing the ball.
Sam Hunt successfully converted and Leek led 0-8 on 33 minutes.
From the kick off, Leek failed to clear and Newcastle pressure led to a scrum in the Leek 22 after a knock on. The centre took a pass at full tilt, and his offload found the wing who scored by the posts. The conversion was good and Newcastle were back to within a point at 7-8 on 37 minutes.
As the first half entered added time Leek won a penalty for offside and the kick for the line by Sam Hunt was superb as Leek had a lineout 10 metres from the Newcastle line. Billy Kidd took the catch and the Leek forwards dove to the line for Joe Newton Taylor to crash over and score. Sam Hunt's unlucky conversion bounced back off the bar as the half ended with Leek leading 7-13.
It had been a pretty even first half with defences generally on top. Both sets of forwards carried well with courageous tackling in midfield with Leek edging the scoring at the beginning and end of the half.
Newcastle had a chance to cut the deficit in the opening minute of the 2nd half as Leek's scrum was penalised but the attempt was short.
On 51 minutes, Joe Newton Taylor pinched a lineout at the front setting up drives for the line but held up and then a penalty for slow release had Leek held up again and losing possession as Newcastle's defence held the ball up. Ollie Drew knocked on after Jack Newton Taylor claimed a kick ahead and then a penalty for holding in the tackle and then backchat gave Leek a kick for the lineout in the Newcastle 22 on 54 minutes. The catch and drive worked again as Joe Newton Taylor carried over for his 2nd try of the game. The conversion missed but Leek extended the lead to 7-18 on 56 minutes.
Again Newcastle came back immediately.
A clearance kick on 57 minutes only found the Newcastle full back and he ran the ball back at pace right. The ball switched left midway in Leek's half and the backs passed well for the left wing to score a try in the corner. The conversion missed but at 12-18, the game was still in the balance.
On 62 minutes the referee yellow carded Luke Hardern and his opposite man for a fracas off the ball after a lineout.
The referee awarded Newcastle the penalty at the incident but it didn't find touch and the counter by Leek led to the next score. Passing along the Leek 22, Jack Newton Taylor made the break down the left. Then Tom Scragg took it on before Sam Hunt twisted the defence one way and another before offloading to Kini Buli on the Newcastle 22. The wing broke inside and passed back to Sam Hunt outside for the full back to score a fantastic try by the posts. He converted and Leek led 12-25 on 65 minutes.
This 4th try earned the bonus point.
2 minutes later and Sam Hunt was again running at the Newcastle defence which finally ended with the Newcastle scrum half being yellow carded on Newcastle's 5 metre line as he interfered with Leek's ball at the ruck. Leek opted for the lineout and then rucking inside led to quick ball wide but a forward pass stopped the try scoring effort of Jack Newton Taylor and Newcastle cleared from the scrum.
On 74 minutes, Newcastle pressured Leek's 5 metre line with a series of strong carries but Leek eventually won a penalty for not releasing and although Newcastle kept up the pressure in the final 8 minutes they couldn't breach the strong, disciplined Leek defence again and Leek ran out winners 12-25.
A very solid performance by Leek and mention must go to the Cheadle brothers, Ed and Bobby, for their superb work at the coalface. Both carried the ball countless times and both tackled well as they led the forward defensive effort. Their unselfish work has been one of the reasons why Leek's run of form recently has seen the Moorlanders only lose once in 2019.
Leek retain 4th place on 54 points. Wolverhampton (3rd , 60 points), lost at Ludlow, leaders on 73 points. Tamworth, 2nd on 67 points just got the better of an improving Walsall, 9th, 37 points by 28-26. Camp Hill, 5th, 53 points won at Stafford (11th, 17 points) and Veseyans (10th, 21 points) won at Telford (12th, 4 points)
Crewe (6th, 48 points) drew at Spartans (8th, 42 points) 10 all and the Spartans are the next visitors to EsterChem Park this Saturday. Kick-off is at 3pm.
6 Nations returns this weekend as well with Scotland v Wales at 2.15pm and England v Italy at 4.45pm live on the big screens in the clubhouse.
Author John McDermott