Midlands West 2 (N)
Tamworth 10 - 15 Leek
Leek kick started their league campaign with a well-deserved win at Tamworth. It was Tamworth’s 1st home league loss since April 2018 when Leek won 29-0 at Wiggington Park.
Even more satisfying was the fact that with 4 enforced changes from last week’s cup game, the Moorlanders improved their performance in defence and the control of the ball as well as their discipline.
Kini Buli made his debut at full back with Jack Newton Taylor unavailable. Dan Sharratt and James Floyd were on the wings. Adam Varley was back with Tom Scragg in the centres and with Sam Hunt injured Isaac Reaney had his first start of the season with the senior team at fly half with Ollie Drew at scrum half. Lewis Dunleavy, Ed Cheadle and Joe Newton Taylor were in the front row with Luke Hardern and Joel Booth at lock. Tom Fairhurst, Reece Milner and George Hunt were in the back row.
On the bench was Jake Bainbridge returning from injury with Adam Smith and Billy Kidd.
The weather was surprisingly good all game with underfoot conditions also favourable for a good open contest and Leek had a chance from the kick off as they won possession deep in Tamworth’s 22 culminating in a 5 metre scrum on the right but at a subsequent ruck Tamworth’s forwards won the ball and cleared. It was mainly all Leek in the opening 16 minutes with Tamworth defending well and Leek testing with both forwards and backs. On 17 minutes inside the Tamworth 22 on the left, Leek looked dangerous but a knock on in the tackle saw Tamworth’s fly half counter and with Leek heads still in attack mode Tamworth swept downfield and scored under the posts. The conversion was good and Tamworth led 7-0.
Still it was Leek pressing and doing the majority of building advantage without looking too dangerous until on 28 minutes a good maul from the lineout on half way had the Leek backs running left to right and only the left wing prevented a score with a tackle into touch on Dan Sharratt. 5 minutes later and into the Tamworth 22 again, another knock on and another counter by Tamworth, this time by kicking downfield and only Isaac Reaney’s last ditch ball protection saved the score. The half ended with Leek mauling into the Tamworth 22 but it ended with a collapsing maul and summed up great effort Leek had put in without any reward.
Half time – Tamworth 7 – 0 Leek
The 2nd half continued as the first with Leek having more of the possession and territory but this time with 5 minutes gone of the half the urgency and pace of the momentum was visibly increased. Twice Adam Smith had runs at the Tamworth 5 metre line creating quick ball which eventually led to full back Kini Buli coming into the line off a great angle to slice through the last line of defence and score a deserved try under the Tamworth posts. Isaac Reaney converted and Leek were level at 7 all.
Leek were now fully in control of the game and won a penalty at the scrum on 59 minutes. Isaac Reaney’s attempt at goal went wide though but 3 minutes later Leek had their noses in front after another good scrum led to Adam Varley making a strong carry into the Tamworth 22 on the left and when the ball came right after good rucking, Isaac Reaney saw the overlap and flung a bouncing pass to right wing James Floyd. The big back, on his return to the firsts, took the ball handed off one defender and crashed over on the right for a good try. The conversion missed but Leek had finally taken a deserved lead at 7-12 on 62 minutes.
Still Leek continued to enjoy the possession and looked dangerous again on 68 minutes with Reaney cross kicking for Floyd only for the ball to evade the winger and go into touch near the try line. It didn’t matter as Leek won possession and with Joel Booth sucking in defenders and the Leek forwards dominating the breakdown a penalty was coming but with advantage being played under the Tamworth posts Ollie Drew’s pass back to Isaac Reaney saw the young fly half bisect the posts with a neat drop goal to increase Leek’s lead to 7-15 with 10 minutes to play.
As the game entered the last 3 minutes Lewis Dunleavy charged down an attempted clearance as Tamworth were again stuck on their own 5 metre line but the bounce of the ball evaded the young prop. Then with time against the home side, the backs ran the ball and eventually won a penalty for a high tackle just outside the Leek 22. Consulting with the referee, it was clear this was to be the last play so Tamworth opted to kick for goal to secure a losing bonus point and this they did to end the game with Leek taking the win at 15-10.
This was an extremely satisfying performance and win following the opening day narrow defeat against Stafford but their win against Longton this weekend by 44-0 may point to a much stronger Stafford outfit this season as they remain unbeaten and 2nd with Camp Hill above them on 10 points and 2 bonus point wins. Other wins were for Wolverhampton, Shrewsbury and Walsall and it is they that visit Esterchem Park this Saturday for round 3 of the league programme.. Kick-off is at 3pm.
Attached photos show Leek’s touch judge Pete Taylor behind the Tamworth flag and Isaac Reaney shaking the hand of coach Lee Pickles with physio Sam Walton, Billy Kidd and James Floyd walking off the field at the end of the game.
Past Captains Lunch is taking place this weekend, so get down and meet those Leek leaders of ages past and talk about the good old times and with Esterchem sponsoring the match as well it promises to be a packed clubhouse before and after the game.
On the Saturday morning also, the clubhouse is open for world cup action as England take on Argentina with kick off at 9am on the big screens.
Get their early and order your hot breakfast. Wear your England kit with pride as the team bids to win and gain a quarter final place.
Leek has drawn Burntwood at home in the semi final of the Staffs Intermediate Cup – date of match yet to be agreed.
On October 12th, Leek will be playing in Round 3 of the Midlands Intermediate Cup. The draw will take place this week and will be distributed as soon as possible.