Sat 23
1st XV


By Michael Whitehouse
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Leek's unbeaten league and cup run came to an end at Stafford on Saturday as the hosts produced an inspired performance….

….to win a 12 try fest of a game in front of a sizeable crowd.

Sam Hunt, Kini Buli and Tom Scragg were the back 3 with Nick palmer and Adam Varley in the centre. Isaac Reaney and Ollie Drew were at half back. Joe Newton Taylor, Ed Cheadle and Bobby Cheadle were in the front row with Andy McFadden and Luke Hardern at lock.
Billie Kidd, Joel Booth and Jack Lawlor made up the backrow with Dan Needham, Ben Barlow and Jake Bainbridge on the bench.

With a firm surface and great playing conditions, the game got off to a flying start with Nick Palmer touching down for the opening try after just 26 seconds following his interception after Stafford won the first ruck from the kick-off. Sam Hunt converted and Leek led early 0-7.

Stafford were level on 9 minutes after a clearance kick from Leek didn't find touch. Two rucks later and a short pass to the Stafford 13 saw him go in under the posts. The conversion was good and it was 7 all.

3 minutes later and a Leek penalty for offside at the scrum had Sam Hunt kicking for the lineout in Stafford's 22. The catch and drive was unstoppable and Joel Booth duly scored. The conversion missed but Leek retook the lead at 7-12.

Stafford were pressing for the next 15 minutes and it ended with a try on 25 minutes. A scrum on Leek's 5 metre line had the No.8 picking up blind and two good passes allowed the left wing to score unopposed in the corner. His conversion missed and all level again at 12s.

Ollie Drew then left the field after a knock to his face and Dan Needham came on.

Leek retook the lead on 32 minutes with another catch and drive from a lineout following a penalty. This time it was youngster Jack Lawlor, enjoying his first season at this level, touching down behind the powerful drive. Again the conversion missed from wide right but Leek took the lead for the 3rd time at 12-17.

As the half closed out with Leek in control of the ball, a charge down on Leek's right led to Stafford scoring as the wing took the pass and routed near the posts. His conversion was good and the half ended with Stafford snatching back the lead at 19-17.

Half time usually signals a determined start from Leek but it was the hosts that responded first when their 4th try came in the first minute as Leek knocked on from the kick off. From the scrum, poor defence from Leek allowed the Stafford backs to score a simple try. With a good conversion, Stafford extended their lead to 26-17.

Leek hit straight back though. An offside on 42 minutes just outside Stafford's 22 after the kick off allowed Dan Needham to take a quick tap and his dummy wrong footed the defence before his pass to Kini Buli had the winger over to score in the left corner. The conversion was a tough miss again but Leek reduced the deficit and scored their bonus point try at 26-22 on 43 minutes.

Stafford came straight back then scoring their next try 2 minutes later after the centre burst through tackles and his pass to the full back beat the last defender for a score in the left corner. The conversion missed but Stafford moved to 31-22 on 47 minutes.

Before the 50th minute registered Leek scored again to cap an extraordinary 10 minutes of play since half time when the familiar pattern of a penalty to Leek led to a lineout in the Stafford 22. Another catch and drive this time had the skipper Luke Hardern scoring a try. The conversion missed but Leek inched closer at 32-27.

From the kick off, Stafford won a penalty for not releasing and from in front of the posts the successful kick added to the Stafford score. 34-27.

From this kick off, Stafford knocked on and then Leek won a penalty at the scrum. Hunt's kick for the lineout led to Leek's 6th try when Jake Bainbridge this time touched down at the back of the driving maul in the left corner. Again a tough conversion fell short but at 34-32 on 57 minutes there was plenty of time for more tries.

As it happened only one more was scored and that was from the hosts from the kick off. Leek tried to run the ball from their 22 but an interception saw the lock sprint in the left corner. The conversion missed but at 39-32 with still over a quarter to go, it was inconceivable given what had happened that no further score would be registered. However that was the outcome as both sides tried to find the next score for different reasons.
Stafford held up one catch and drive from Leek's forwards and Leek's attacking threat was comfortably held by Stafford for the remainder of the game.
It had been a game littered with mistakes and then opportunity and both sides can take some positives from it as the season draws to its close.

The win gave Stafford 5 points to give them some hope of avoiding relegation but it was tempered by the news that Veseyans had beaten Walsall. With Tamworth and Wolverhampton both winning, Leek must now look forward to the Staffs Intermediate Cup Final as the target.
Camp Hill's win sees Leek drop to 5th place despite Leek picking up 2 points.

This week, Leek's unbeaten home record is on the line as 2nd placed Tamworth visit EsterChem park. Kick-off is at 3pm.
This game hosts the ex-players' day and we have had many positive confirmations of past players coming to the club on Saturday, so if you are another one reading this, please make a special effort to attend. It should be a great atmosphere and you will meet some old friends for sure.
Author John McDermott

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Match details

Match date

Sat 23, Mar 2019




Midlands 2 West (North)

League position