Jamie Gordon and the Cheadle bothers made up the front row with Tom Sims teaming up with James Wilson at lock. Luke Staton came in at No8 with Ad Nettel and Andy McFadden on the flanks. Skipper Gary McDermott and Dan Needham were at half back. Liam McDermott and Sam Hunt were in the centre and James Floyd, Nick Palmer and Jack Newton Taylor made up the back 3.
Luke Granger, Jack Conlon and Lee Williams were on the bench as Leek kicked off slightly against a wind with drizzle most of the afternoon ahead.
It took just 2 minutes for the home side to register the first try of the day when a clearance kick from Leek reached the Wolves 22. The backs ran the ball back to Leek's half, set up a couple of rucks, shipped the ball wide and a simple overlap saw the wing score near the posts. His conversion was good and Wolves were 7-0 up already.
Things were about to get worse for Leek when on 9 minutes a dropped ball on the right allowed a hack through from the Wolves centre. He appeared to knock on twice before eventually collecting the ball on Leek's 22. Quick ball from the tackle and Leek were outflanked again as the wing went in for his 2nd try. He missed the conversion but at 12-0
it looked like an uphill battle was facing the visitors.
To their credit, back came Leek. The ship was steadied as they retained better possession and on 19 minutes following a lineout on the right, Gary McDermott made several yards and then set the ruck. 3 more rucks and the Wolves defence was sucked in. It allowed Sam Hunt to get into space and his pass to Nick Palmer saw the speedy wing just win the race for the left corner to score a deserved try. McDermott's touchline conversion was superb and Leek had reduced Wolves lead to 12-7.
4 minutes later and McDermott had a long range effort for 3 more points but his kick just went wide as Wolves were penalised for a scrum offence. Nevertheless, Leek was enjoying the possession now and Gary McDermott made another break, this time right through the inside backs defence. He looked like scoring after a 30 metre run to the Wolves line, but was tackled. Wolves were penalised twice for red zone offences before McDermott set up another ruck close to the Wolves line and Dan Needham bulldozed his way over to take Leek level. McDermott converted and unlikely as it may have seemed 15 minutes earlier, Leek had taken a 14-12 lead on 28 minutes.
2 minutes later and Nick Palmer burst through the inner backs defence and he was stopped just short of the line after a terrific run. He was well turned over though and Wolves cleared.
On 37 minutes Wolves had a penalty for not releasing in the tackle, but the attempt was short and Leek cleared.
As the half wound down, another Wolves penalty for not releasing saw the home side prodded into Leek's 22 for a lineout. Leek pinched it though and were looking to run out of defence and were penalised again for crossing, allowing Wolves to pin Leek further in their own 22 for a lineout. A good catch and drive saw the Wolves maul near the Leek line, but a good tackle bundled the Wolves ball carrier into touch and Leek cleared.
The half time whistle went with the game poised perfectly at 12-14.
Leek started the 2nd half brightly and on 45 minutes Palmer was in again but was hauled back for a forward pass. Still Leek pressed and Jack Newton Taylor went on one of his runs deep into Wolves 22. The maul was set up but Leek couldn't recycle and Wolves won the scrum. As they cleared from the base, Andy McFadden was yellow carded for an attempted trip on his opposite man and it looked like Leek would let the pressure off Wolves.
However, the opposite occurred as the determination and fitness of the Moorlanders began to wear down the home defence. Dan Needham was superb at the back of the Leek pack and on 50 minutes he orchestrated a flowing move up the right side and into the Wolves 22, sucking in defenders and delivering a pass which Sam Hunt did exceptionally well to take for the centre to sprint into the right corner for a stunning try. McDermott failed with the difficult conversion but Leek had increased their lead to 12-17 with the 14 men. Sam was injured in the act of scoring and Lee Williams came into 12.
Wolves came back at Leek but always seemed the final pass didn't work or Leek's brave defence turned over ball. Jack Newton Taylor suffered a head injury and was taken off with McFadden still in the bin. Sam Hunt came on at full back having recovered from his injury.
Wolves now won a series of penalties on their left as Leek's discipline dropped and it led to a lineout on Leek's 22. The powerful home maul saw the skipper crash over after a superb driving maul to the Leek line. The conversion missed but at 17-19 on 70 minutes, it was still a great game to be won or lost.
10 minutes of added time was to be played following the injury to Taylor and a subsequent head knock to Tom Sims and on 80 minutes, Wolves were running the ball and wininng another penalty at the scrum. A lineout on the Leek 22 was foiled though but Leek couldn't clear the ball and found themselves defending the area outside the 22 to the 10 metre line for the next 5 minutes. Their discipline improved and they didn't concede a penalty and then on 88 minutes, Leek won turnover ball on their own 22. McDermott lifted the siege with a long raking kick which kept on bouncing towards the right touchline on the Wolves 22. 3 Leek backs bore down on the fullback as he tried to keep the ball in play and suddenly play and territory had shifted to the Wolves 22. Leek won a penalty and Dan Needham took a quick tap but then Leek lost the ball and Wolves cleared.
Sam Hunt collected and jinked his way back into the 22 and Leek's forwards took over and reached the Wolves line before losing the ball somehow. Wolves attempted to run from behind their posts and a combined Liam McDermott Lee Williams tackle saw the ball spilled. Ed Cheadle collected and crashed over the line for Leek's 4th try with the last play of the game. Gary McDermott added the conversion and Leek had won in dramatic fashion.
This was a gutsy performance from Leek's squad, who, to a man gave everything to the cause. The organisation was very good and they were rewarded with a win they thoroughly deserved in the end.
The other 3 unbeaten teams all won. Aston Old Edwardians are Leek's next league opponents at Esterchem, Park on October 26th. Kick off is 3pm.
Bonfire night at the club is on Sunday November 3rd – gates open at 6pm, Fireworks from 7pm with bonfire. All welcome.
In between league games, Leek's 1st team will travel to Nottingham Casuals next Saturday for a 2nd round RFU Intermediate cup match. Kick off is at 3pm at their Beeston, river Trent home.
Author John Dermott