With Stoke and Stafford on Cup duty, this win lifted Leek to 4th, but still enmeshed in a tight mid-table battle with 6 other clubs and 6 games to play.
George Hunt was fit again and took his place in the centre with Shane Dicker. Lucas Buxton, Nick Palmer and Sam Hunt made up the back 3 and the usual half back pairing of McDermott and Green gave Leek its more familiar back division line up.
Taylor, Ackerley and Milner were in the front row with Hine and Sims at lock, all 5 starting as last week. In the back row, Luke Staton and Matt Slinn were unavailable and relieved the selection committee of some difficult decisions as Andy McFadden returned to the flank with Ad Nettel at No8 and Charlie Futcher starting on the blindside.
With England's game against Wales kicking off at 4pm, the game was brought forward to kick off at 1.30pm and of note was the selection of referee Ken Roxburgh, who was officiating at his last game as a Staffordshire Society referee after 15 years loyal service. Ken had refereed at a very high level in Scotland and his handling of many Staffs games has always been an example for younger whistle blowers to follow. His accuracy, humour and fairness will be missed by all.
Leek had 2 early penalties as they started strongly, but the first ended with an inaccurate lineout allowing Dixonians to clear their 5 metre line and the 2nd, a 7th minute goal attempt by Gary McDermott went wide. However 3 minutes later, a turnover in midfield and then 2 quick rucks, allowed the ball to be swept wide right. The intervention of Sam Hunt created the overlap and younger brother George showed blistering pace to score in the right corner. Jake Green's conversion was good and Leek led 7-0 early.
Leek then allowed indiscipline to creep into their game and conceded a number of penalties giving Dixonians field position. However hard the visitors tried to break the Leek defensive line though, the discipline at ruck and maul in defence was excellent and Leek cleared with some comfort. The half was running down before Lucas Buxton found touch on half way. Although Dixonians won their ball, they found themselves clearing from inside their 22 on 40 minutes. Retrieved on half way by Sam Hunt, he set his brother George off again and the youngster reached the Dixonians 5 metre line before he was tackled. The Leek forwards were quick to support and a couple of drives for the line
ensued before Jake Green passed the ball blind for Nick Palmer to touch down in the right corner
Green's conversion was short but Leek had edged to 12-0 as the game entered stoppage time with just the restart to come before the end of the half. Unfortunately for Dixonians, who perhaps had switched off at that point, Tom Hine caught the restart and set up a ruck. 2 pick ups and drives saw the ball inside Dixonians 10 metre line and then quick hands by Green and McDermott allowed Buxton to show his skills with a deft show of the ball and sprint under the posts for a game changing score. Green converted and at 19-0 with the half time whistle blown, it was a significant upgrade on the score that looked likely on 40 minutes.
It took Leek 9 minutes of the 2nd half to win their 4th try and bonus point after Tom Sims lineout catch and then quick ball allowing Shane Dicker on the inside to burst through the line. His interpassing with George Hunt saw the imposing inside centre take the final pass back and score under the posts. Green converted and Leek was up to 26-0.
Another clearance kick from the visitors on 54 minutes allowed Leek's back to counter attack and George Hunt notched his 2nd try after chipping ahead and sprinting past the cover to collect the ball and score in the right corner. Green converted again and the score moved to 33-0.
From the kick off, good ball retention saw skipper Jason Milner sprinting through the defence and a couple of rucks later, Dave Ackerley took the pass that gave him a try by the left post. Green converted again and it was 40-0.
Leek then made 3 changes in personnel as Jamie Gordon came on for Joe Taylor at prop, James Hall for Tom Sims at lock and Dave Kennaway for Jake Green at scrum half.
A penalty on 73 minutes for offside allowed McDermott to slot a penalty goal to make it 43-0 and with the last play of the match as Dixonians lost the ball on Leek's 22, McDermott's clearance kick was chased down by wingers Buxton and Palmer. They caught the full back in possession on his own 22, won the ball and then quick passing to the left gave Sam Hunt a score near the left corner. McDermott's conversion was good and Leek had reached 50 points without conceding.
Dixonians had tried very hard all afternoon and must be commended on their efforts as they had their fair share of the ball, but the difference was what each side did with it.
Coach Chris Mudd was very pleased with the squad's performance but reminded his players that still more hard work in training is required to maintain their position and challenge for 3rd place.
Next Saturday, March 3rd, sees Leek entertain 2nd placed Old Saltleians at F Ball Park. Old Salts slipped up at 3rd placed Moseley Oak this Saturday for only their 3rd loss of the season. Kick off is at 3.00pm, as the season moves into March.
Congratulations to Stoke who beat Old Laurentians on Saturday to reach the Midlands Intermediate Cup Final whilst commiserations go to Stafford for an agonising 15-18 loss at Lutterworth in the other semi final.
With Tamworth edging Bridgnorth and Moseley Oak's win, 7 teams remain separated by only 8 points. Burntwood had an impressive win at Spartans and gave themselves hope of overhauling them in the relegation fight.