Midlands West 1
Not many visiting sides score 6 tries, score 40 points and end up losing but that is what happened to Silhillians on Saturday as the Moorlanders kept pace with their visitors and eventually overhauled them to record their first win of the season and give themselves a confidence boost after last week's mauling at Newport.
Leek made 6 changes to last week's team with an unprecedented trio of brothers starting for Leek in a league game.
With Ian Harris at scrum half, the McDermott brothers of Gary, Liam and Robert played at 10, 12 and 13, supported by a back 3 of Sam Hunt moving back to full back, the returning James Floyd on the right wing and Nick Palmer on the left wing, the back line looked solid.
Jason Milner was back at loose head prop with Bobby Cheadle at hooker and John Brooks making his debut for Leek at tight head.
Tom Sims and returning Ed Harrison were at lock with Luke Staton back at No.8. Matt Slinn and Andy McFadden were on the flanks.
Adam Smith, James Hall and Jake Green were on the bench.
Due to the cricket still playing the game was played on the 2nd team pitch on a perfect surface on a fine day.
Sils were out of the blocks immediately and dominated the opening 3 minutes before Leek opened the scoring on 4 minutes following pressure inside the Sils 22. When a maul was formed 15 metres from the line, skipper Gary McDermott found himself in the unusual position of ball carrier and his forwards controlled the maul superbly to carry the captain over for a good try. He converted his own try and Leek led 7-0.
4 minutes later and McDermott's break to the Sils 22 and then pass to Liam McDermott saw the youngster sprinting for the line. A good tackle followed but the tackler didn't release and an easy 3 point s followed as Leek extended to 10-0 with 8 minutes on the clock.
On 11 minutes, a Sils penalty led to a lineout in Leek's 22. A scrum then followed on the right and good hands saw the left wing score in the left corner. A great conversion and the visitors were right back in it at 10-7.
On 17 minutes, Leek was offside and Sils opted for a scrum in Leek's 22. A pick up by the captain and No8 saw him burst for the line and score to take Sils into the lead, extended by the conversion to 10-14.
3 minutes later and another penalty against Leek saw another lineout in Leek's 22. Poor defence at the rear allowed the No8 to breach the line and a simple pass to the hooker saw him crash over for Sils 3rd try. Again the conversion was good and Sils led 10-21 on 20 minutes.
Back came Leek and won a penalty on the Sils 22 when a forward was penalised for holding the Ian Harris in the ruck. Gary McDermott slotted the simple kick to claw back 3 points at 13-21 on 25 minutes.
Leek moved up a gear as Adam Smith and James Hall came on and pressure was building on Sils defence as James Floyd couldn't hold onto a grubber kick to score on 35 minutes. As the half closed down into added time Adam Smith burst for the line but was courageously stopped a metre short. Sils won the ball and then lost it again. Leek worked the ball through the backs to the right wing and James Floyd came charging onto the ball to score a great try. McDermott's conversion ended the half as Leek bounced back to leave only a 1 point deficit at 20-21.
If Leek thought they were going to sweep past Sils, the 2nd half kick off should have reminded them about the dangerous Sils vision. The kick found touch away from the forwards on Leek's 5 metre line. Leek lost their own line and persistent rucking finally allowed the excellent Sils 7 to touch down. The conversion was good and Sils opened up to 21-28 with 3 minutes of the 2nd half gone to clinch their try scoring bonus point.
Leek won a scrum on 48 minutes on half way and from Gary McDermott's break, the forwards set up a maul in the Sils 22. Bobby Cheadle dived in for Leek's 3rd try, but McDermott couldn't convert as the gap closed to 25-28.
From the kick off Adam Smith retained the ball. Good hands left saw Nick Palmer use his pace to get to the Sils 22. An inside pass to Ian Harris allowed for good continuity and as the ball came right, James Floyd opened up the defence before slipping a pass to Rob McDermott for him to score Leek's 4th try. Gary McDermott converted, the bonus point was won and Leek had taken the lead at 32-28 on 51 minutes.
On 65 minutes, a break out by Sils and only a desperate tackle by Nick Palmer prevented a score, but from the resulting scrum 5 metres out, the Sils No8 picked up and scored his 2nd try. The conversion missed but Sils regained the lead at 32-33.
Sils scrum half had to leave the field with an ankle injury meaning the visitors had to re-arrange their set up which didn't help their cause as the game entered the crucial last phases.
On 71 minutes, Sam Hunt caught a high ball in his own 22. He released Nick Palmer down the left culminating in a Leek penalty in Sils 22 for not releasing in the tackle. Gary McDermott converted to give Leek the lead back at 35-33.
The game was in the balance as both teams continued to attack at will and on 78 minutes Leek turned over the ball on their own 22. Rob McDermott cleared left but Sils full back in catching the ball gave a blind pass to his wing. Nick Palmer intercepted and ran in from his own half to score a great try in the left corner. McDermott's fine conversion looked to have won the game as Leek went 9 points ahead at 42-33.
This game still had a couple of twists and as Leek penned the Sils deep into their own 22 with 4 minutes of added time already played, it looked like Sils wouldn't get a chance but their forwards drove towards their own 5 metre line before hands right saw the Sils 7 fend off 3 would be tacklers before deftly passing the ball to a centre. One pass later and the Sils 13 was sprinting under the Leek posts for his sides' 6th try. The simple conversion followed and at 42-40, there was still time for one more play.
Leek kicked off, won the ball in the air outside Sils 22. Rob McDermott broke inside, the forwards secured the ball and Gary McDermott's long pass to James Floyd saw the right wing score his 2nd and Leek's 6th try in the right corner. Jake Green converted to deny Sils a losing bonus point as Leek had the last say in a 49-40 extravaganza fro the supporters of both clubs.
This had been a fantastic match of attacking intent and quality as both sides sought to run the ball and the game was played in a great spirit.
The win helped lift Leek off the bottom of the table, but with only 2 matches played, the season has a long way to go.
This Saturday sees the Moorlanders travel the short distance to local rivals Stoke.
Please come and support the team as they try to build on their performance this week.
Kick off is at 3pm at Hartwell Lane.