Midlands 1 West
League rugby resumed this Saturday after a week's break and Leek got back to winning ways in a 10 try thriller against fellow Midlands 2 West winners from last season, Earlsdon.
Leek's forwards started with Jason Milner, Bobby Cheadle and John Brookes in the front row. Ed Harrison and Luke Hardern were at lock and Luke Staton, Andy McFadden and Dan Needham filled the back row.
Ian Harris and Gary McDermott were at half back as Liam McDermott returned at 12 with Nick Palmer in the centre. Jack Newton taylor, James Floyd and Sam Hunt made up the back 3.
Phil Tomczak, Jake Green and Dan Cooper were on the bench.
The opening 3 minutes saw an end to end attacking spell without the whistle blowing once and it was to signal the start of a fantastic open game of rugby. Unfortunately for the visitors on 4 minutes, the back line gave up an interception to Nick Palmer who sprinted in from half way under the posts. Gary McDermott converted to give Leek an early 7-0 lead.
However, it took Earlsdon only 3 minutes to equalise, when from a scrum on Leek’s 10 metre line, a neat dummy allowed the full back to sprint through a tackle and just make it to the Leek try line for a spectacular score. The fly half converted and the game was all square at 7 all.
Leek had their first scrum on 11 minutes and it was clear the Moorlanders were going to dominate this area of the game, but a tug back on the Earlsdon scrum half allowed the fly half to successfully kick a long range penalty to give the visitors the lead at 7-10.
2 minutes later and Leek restored the lead when a clearance kick didn’t get out of the visitors 22. From the resulting lineout, a good catch and drive allowed scrum half Ian Harris to gather the ball at the back of the maul and score a try. McDermott converted and Leek led 14-10.
On 21 minutes, Leek were pressing in the Earlsdon 22 and brave tackling only, prevented James Floyd from scoring. Nevertheless, the defence was caught offside and McDermott increased Leek’s lead with a comfortable penalty. 17-10.
On 30 minutes, Earlsdon were back on level terms after a penalty allowed them to kick for a lineout 10 metres from Leek’s line. A catch and drive led to Leek’s defence being sucked in and from a quick ruck, the outside centre sprinted over for a try. The conversion was good and it was 17 all.
This was turning out to be a great contest with both sides trying to play open attacking football but good defences were on hand to create a fascinating game as the first half ended without further score.
HT – 17 all.
Ian Gittens worked his squad at the half because 2 minutes in and Leek were back in the lead. Dan Cooper set up a maul on half way and the Leek forwards marched the visitors to their own 22. Then a quick break blind had Gary McDermott feeding Jack Newton Taylor. The young wing had plenty to do but his pace got him through 3 tackles as he dotted down in the right corner. The conversion missed but Leek were up to 22-17.
5 minutes later and Leek had their try bonus point. From a quick tapped penalty on Earlsdon’s 10 metre line, Ian Harris set Luke Hardern up on the charge. His break into the 22 then allowed quick hands left where Sam Hunt joined the line to sprint in for a nice try. The conversion missed but Leek had built a 10 point lead at 27-17.
Earlsdon came back immediately though and on 49 minutes won a penalty for not releasing in the tackle and the fly half kicked the penalty. 27-20.
2 minutes later and Leek had replied with their 5th try. Jack Taylor fielded a clearance kick on half way. He moved the ball from the left wing to the right, the ruck was set up on the 22, then Gary McDermott ran blind and released Nick Palmer to charge over for his 2nd try. The conversion was good and at 34-20, it looked like Leek had finally overcome their visitors.
This looked especially the case when the Earlsdon flanker was yellow carded on 62 minutes and a minute later the Leek backs had a seemingly simple overlap to score a try but the referee deemed a forward pass to the astonishment of all concerned.
With the yellow card counting down, Earlsdon were attacking in the Leek 22 on 72 minutes but a great tackle had the ball squirting out of the side and a grateful James Floyd collected in his own 22 and the young winger sprinted the length of the field to score under the posts. McDermott converted and at 41-20 with 8 minutes of regular time to go, it looked all over for the visitors.
The Earlsdon flanker then came back on and the visitors started on the comeback trail.
On 75 minutes, after a break by the fly half, the flanker charged over under the posts. With the conversion missed, it meant Earlsdon were one try away from a bonus point at 41-25.
2 minutes later and Earlsdon deservedly got their reward when the flanker went over under the posts leaving some poor would be tacklers in his wake. The conversion was successful and suddenly even the win was possible at 41-32.
However, Leek steadied the ship and increased their lead with an 83rd minute penalty from McDermott following an offside decision at the ruck. 44-32.
Indeed another score for Leek on 85 minutes was thwarted on the Earlsdon line as the game ended in the gloom with players getting a bit frustrated.
It had been an exciting game to play in and watch and both teams take credit for their adventure.
The win lifted Leek to 6th.
Newport thrashed Crewe 76-0 as Hereford won at Kenilworth. Stoke continued their good form with a win at home against Barkers Butts. Stratford beat Whitchurch as Walsall lost at home to Worcester Wanderers.
Old Sills and Berkswell & Balsall drew.
The first half of the season has 3 matches to play and Leek faces 3 sides above them currently. This Saturday Leek makes the long journey to 2nd placed Hereford.
There is a coach leaving the club at 9.30am. Any interested spectators wanting to travel, please call Mark Hardern, John McDermott or Duncan Smith.
There is then another week’s break before Leek’s next home game on December 6th against Kenilworth.
That is followed by an away trip to Worcester Wanderers on December 13th.
The 2nd half of the season actually starts on December 20th with an away fixture at Old Sills.