Tamworth's 1st team pitch was unplayable, so the colts' pitch which is under used with a firm surface and longer grass made for a good game.
With a strong low sun in Tamworth's favour first half, the home side started the brighter and good retention of the ball and strong forward mauling had the Moorlanders defending deep in their own 22. A 3rd minute penalty for offside gave Tamworth the chance to open the scoring, but the attempt went wide. Still Tamworth pressed and only a 10th minute Leek scrum cleared the danger and it was only in the 12th minute Leek had the ball in the Tamworth 22 for the first time.
Ian Harris offloaded superbly and Nick Palmer went close, but a knock on lost the opportunity for Leek.
As the first quarter ended, Tamworth were pressing in the Leek 22 again and won a 5 metre scrum. The pick up and drive had Leek bravely holding the ball up over the line and then Jason Milner was yellow carded for in at the side of a ruck. Tamworth opted for the scrum which was penalised for not straight and Leek cleared.
Leek had little continuity to speak of in that opening 20 minutes and it was left to skipper Gary McDermott to make the first decisive break when he took the ball on the front foot and broke inside to sprint into the Tamworth 22 on 26 minutes. Andy McFadden supported well and took McDermott's pass. The return pass saw the skipper run in for the opening try on the right side. His own conversion missed but Leek had taken a lead at 0-5 against the run of play.
Leek now upped their game and McDermott increased the lead on 32 minutes with a penalty for handling in the ruck. 0-8.
6 minutes later and with Jason Milner restored to the side, McDermott landed his 2nd penalty, this time for offside and at 0-11, Leek looked like they were breaking the Tamworth grip. A final Tamworth penalty miss for not releasing in the tackle ended the half with the home side still very much in the game.
Leek's 2nd half start was impressive. 40 seconds were on the clock when James Floyd stole a pass after McDermott cleared the kick off from Tamworth downfield. 2 rucks later and the defence was sucked in allowing Nick Palmer to make a break and offload in the tackle. Quick ball left and Jack Newton Taylor was left to sprint in for Leek's 2nd try. McDermott's conversion was good and at 0-18, Leek had manufactured a strong lead.
On 44 minutes though, the Tamworth fly half made a superb break and only an ankle tap stopped him from scoring. The pressure was on the Leek line and quick recycling saw the Tamworth centre score a deserved try. The conversion was good and at 7-18, it was game on.
Ad Nettel left the field nursing a hip injury and James Wilson replaced him and then on 53 minutes Leek won a penalty for offside at the ruck and McDermott kicked his 3rd successful penalty to move the score to 7-21.
3 minutes later and the best move of the match saw Leek score their 3rd try. Andy McFadden stole a lineout ball on Leek's own 22.
An initial ruck was set up and then Leek's backs broke from deep. Jack Newton Taylor took the final pass on the left wing at the half way line and he outsprinted the cover to score under the posts. McDermott converted and at 7-28, Leek were now hunting the bonus point. However, disaster struck on 61 minutes with Leek looking like they were about to score their 4th try, rucking under the Tamworth posts. The referee spotted Luke Hardern clearing out and making an illegal tackle which resulted in a straight red for the young Leek lock. Still Leek pressed and only a knock on stopped a try on 66 minutes. Then on 68 minutes Tamworth lost their flanker to the bin with a yellow for slowing the ball at the tackle. McDermott kicked for the lineout in Tamworth's 22.
A catch and drive looked good but the ball was held up before the line and Tamworth had a scrum. A couple of close shaves followed on the Tamworth line before the home side cleared for a lineout on 73 minutes. Leek's line on the Tamworth 22 saw a good take by Luke Staton. A maul was set up and the Leek forwards moved the ball into the 22. Then the ball was released and a great move in the Leek backs saw Jack Newton Taylor take the ball at pace and his pass to Nick Palmer beat the last defender, as the centre went in under the posts for a fine try. McDermott converted and the bonus point was won at 7-35.
Tamworth had never given up and came back strongly in the final minutes and deservedly scored their 2nd try on 79 minutes, after Leek conceded penalties in their own 22. 12-35.
With the home side pressing again as the game closed out, Liam McDermott anticipated the pass on the Leek 22 and he sprinted in under the posts as Tamworth's backs were fully committed to the attack. Brother Gary converted to end the game at 12-42.
This was the usual tough encounter with Tamworth with the home forwards fearless in possession and Leek had to play extremely well to overcome them. In the end, Leek's backs created enough chances to win the game, but the coaches know the Moorlanders will need to improve their game to continue the solid recent run which has helped them to lead the league.
In other games, Moseley Oak lost at Old Salts without getting a losing bonus point and Crewe's game at Wolverhampton was postponed.
Stafford beat Ludlow, and with Camp Hill winning at Aston, Willenhall dropped to 11th after a defeat at home to Bridgnorth who moved into 4th place and looking very strong presently.
This Saturday, Leek entertains Wolverhampton at Esterchem Park. Kick off is at 2.15pm
On January 25th, Leek travels to Aston Old Eds and then on February 1st, Leek makes the journey to Newbold for the Midlands Intermediate Cup semi final clash.
The club is taking a bus to the game for players and spectators. Any supporter wanting to travel on the bus, please contact John McDermott or Neal Edge as soon as possible. Places will be limited