Barkers Butts 19
Leek struggled to overcome a determined and tenacious Barkers Butts still trying to win their first game of the season. Only in the final few minutes was a win secured, but the Moorlanders held their composure and won their first away league game and first back to back wins in Midlands 1 to move up to 6th place.
Again the side was disrupted with several changes from last week. It seems a pattern that will take some weeks to play itself out but the wider squad is capable of playing at this level and the experience gained is becoming invaluable as the coaches grapple with selection.
Ian Harris was back at 9 with skipper Gary McDermott at 10. Jake Green and Nick Palmer forged a new centre partnership with the back 3 of Jack Newton Taylor, James Floyd and Sam Hunt completing the back line.
Jason Milner, Adam Smith and Bobby Cheadle started in the front row with Ed Harrison and Phil Tomszak at lock. Luke Hardern was at No.8 with Luke Staton and Matt Slinn on the flanks.
Andy Thomson, Ollie Drew and John Brooks were on the bench as the game kicked off on a good pitch with Leek defending the slope and against the wind first half.
The opening quarter belonged to BB after a bright opening 2 minutes from Leek. On 7 minutes a BB scrum outside the Leek 22 saw the ball passed to the right and then as Leek’s defence was engaged the ball was swiftly shifted left where the speedy fly half sprinted in between 2 Leek defenders to score a good try. His own conversion just missed but BB’s intention were clear and they were threatening. 5-0.
On 11 minutes, Leek had a penalty attempt after BB was penalised at the ruck for off feet but McDermott’s attempt went wide.
4 minutes later, the BB 10 made a superb break, sidestepping past the Leek line and only a knock on from a long pass prevented a scoring opportunity. From this first Leek scrum, the visitors were penalised as the shove came on and BB kicked for the lineout near the Leek line.
A good catch and drive and a good hold by Leek meant the ball shifted to the BB backs and a couple of rucks later saw the BB centre crash over for his side’s 2nd try. The conversion was good and at 12-0, Leek needed to get hold of the ball and retain it better.
On 20 minutes, Jake Green missed a penalty after BB was penalised for not releasing in the tackle and 3 minutes later another penalty had Leek catching and driving 5 metres from the BB line but a holding on offence in the tackle allowed BB to clear.
It took Leek until the 33rd minute then to get on the board after Gary McDermott broke to BB’s 22 and won another penalty for not releasing in the tackle. Jake Green was successful and Leek had reduced the lead. 12-3.
4 minutes later and a dropped ball on half way by the BB backs saw Jake Green alert to the chance of a counter. Good interpassing and change of direction saw the ball go wide left to Jack Newton Taylor on BB’s 10 metre line. He took the ball at pace, outsprinted the BB 10 and then handed off the wing and full back to dot down in the corner. It was a great individual effort. McDermott’s conversion missed but at 12-8, Leek was creeping back into the game.
The half couldn’t have ended better for Leek as from the kick off, good retention allowed Luke Hardern to charge through a few tackles to half way. His offload to McDermott and then support from Ian Harris allowed Nick Palmer to get on the end of a pass and then sprint over from the 22 for a great try. Jake Green converted and as unlikely as it seemed 15 minutes before, Leek had taken the lead right on half time. 12-15.
The 2nd half opened with BB losing their flanker to a yellow card as the referee lost patience with not releasing after the tackle. Leek had the chance then to exert some pressure and from the 5 meter lineout Leek drove for the line but were held up. The referee was playing advantage for pulling an earlier maul down and McDermott found his kicking boots with a well struck penalty to extend Leek’s lead to 12-18.
If Leek thought this was the moment to take the game away from BB, then a penalty from the kick off should have alerted them to think again. The penalty attempt went wide though.
On 52 minutes, Leek was scrimmaging in their own 22 and McDermott broke blind. His run and support from James Floyd had the Moorlanders deep in the BB 22 and as Luke Staton got to the action, a simple pass would have had Sam Hunt under the posts. Instead, the pass was dropped and BB had a let off.
3 minutes later and McDermott missed a penalty allowing BB’s a 22 drop out from which calamity struck.
The ball wasn’t fielded by Leek and the BB’s right wing kicked ahead. He kept his head and kicked again to Leek’s line where he was tackled without the ball by Jack Taylor. The referee correctly awarded a penalty try which was easily converted and Taylor was lucky not to receive a yellow card for his actions. BB had retaken the lead at 19-18.
The next 10 minutes saw both sides give penalties away but neither side could take advantage.
On 70 minutes a Jake Green drop goal attempt went just wide as Leek pressed, but 2 minutes later he struck a good penalty as BB was penalised for handling in the ruck to hand the lead back to Leek at 19-21.
Leek now started to turn the screw, led by scrum half Ian Harris. The forwards were beginning to get on top and a penalty allowed McDermott to kick for a lineout 10 metres from the BB line on 78 minutes.
A catch and drive was stopped near the line but Jake Green picked the ball up at the back, dummied a pass and sprinted over for the match winning score. McDermott converted to complete the scoring at 19-28.
It had been another entertaining affair with the lead changing hands a few times and credit to BB for their competitive and creative ability. Leek came through well in the end and although not a vintage performance, the win was deserved and the players performed well under pressure.
In other matches, Crewe had a highly creditable win against Hereford and Kenilworth edged Berkswell as Stoke racked up a good away win and Newport continue to dominate at the top of the table.
Next week, Leek entertains Berkswell and Balsall at Esterchem Park. It’s the last 3pm kick off in 2014.
Please come and support the Moorlanders and enjoy the pre and post-match hospitality.