Kenilworth deserved their win after a spirited 2nd half comeback and despite Leek’s opening try which will be one of the best individual efforts seen on any pitch this season.
Nevertheless, Leek hung on for a losing bonus point despite playing the final 10 minutes with only 13 men and in the scheme of things, this has to be taken as a positive result.
Ollie Drew started at scrum half with Gary McDermott at 10. Sam Hunt and Nick Palmer were in the centre. Phil Beard was back on the wing with Jake Green and Jack Newton taylor at full back.
Simon McNichol, Adam Smith and John Brookes started in the front row with Tom Sims and Ed Harrison at lock.
Luke Staton was at No.8 and Andy McFadden and Simon Drew on the flanks.
On the bench, Leek had Luke Hardern, fresh from his first start for the British Police, Lee Williams and Jason Milner.
On a dull, cold and still day with good underfoot conditions, it was the visitors that started brightly as Leek’s inertia led to a 4th minute penalty for in at the side of the ruck on their own 22. The Kenilworth fullback duly opened the scoring at 0-3.
Kenilworth pressed again and on 10 minutes had a clear overlap but great defence held the attack on the line and eventually Leek won a penalty for holding on in the tackle. Leek then had their first meaningful attack before that broke down on the Kenilworth 22 on 15 minutes. The full back went on a powerful run down the right wing and a good pass inside on Leek’s 5 metre line would have seen the opening try. However, Nick Palmer got in the way of the intended pass and the ball ricocheted back to Leek’s full back Jack Newton Taylor, standing 1 metre in play from his own goal line with 15 Kenilworth men in front of him. Barely 20 seconds later and without another player touching the ball, the youngster had dotted the ball down under the Kenilworth posts for a breath taking individual score. Reaching his own 22, he sprinted right to the half way, cut inside another 2 defenders and ended up on the Kenilworth 22 on the left side again where the flanker made the final effort to lay a glove on Taylor. However, the after burners came on and Jack sprinted away again to score a memorable try. Gary McDermott converted and Leek had taken an unlikely lead at 7-3.
Momentum had changed and Leek were now to press home the advantage. Phil Beard gathered the kick-off and great retention by the forwards saw Leek move the ball to the Kenilworth 22. Jack Newton taylor, Sam Hunt and Jake Green all helped move the ball deep into the 22 on the right wing before Gary McDermott crashed over for Leek’s 2nd try with the defence unable to stop the excellent retention and speed of pick up. Jake Green converted and Leek was out to 14-3.
The game moved into a period of opening attacking play by both sides before Jake Green had a 33rd minute penalty miss and with the last play of the half Gary McDermott missed a long range effort. Still it had been a great spectacle and at 14-3, the game was still in the balance.
The 2nd half opened with Leek conceding a series of penalties at the ruck and were lucky no-one received a yellow card before on 51 minutes with Kenilworth pressing on the left side in the Leek 22, the full back then saw the chance to kick the ball right where any number of the backs could have collected and scored. The centre did that and the simple conversion had the game at 14-10.
2 minutes later though, Gary McDermott converted a penalty attempt for hands in the ruck on the Kenilworth 22. 17-10.
The game was coming to its crunch time now and it was Kenilworth that grabbed the initiative. On 66 minutes, a lineout on Leek’s 10 meter line saw a simple move I the backs and a missed tackle allow the right wing to score Kenilworth’s 2nd try. The conversion was good and we had a 17 all score line.
3 minutes later, Jake Green was yellow carded for slapping the ball down as Kenilworth attacked and this led to a Kenilworth lineout in the Leek 22. The catch and drive was held up by the Leek defence and as the ball spilled out of the side Adam Smith picked up but was deemed offside and he too was shown yellow.
The pressure now was unrelenting and disregarding an overlap on the right, Kenilworth’s scrum half kept the pressure on the blindside trying to create the space and on 74 minutes, the wing finally crashed over for a try in the left corner with Leek’s defence finally breached. The conversion missed, but at 17-22, could Leek come back with 13 men.
They had a chance and drove into the Kenilworth 22 as the game entered the final minute but a knock on gave Kenilworth a scrum. Then it was all hands to the pump to stop the visitors from gaining another score, which the valiant Moorlanders managed to do and so despite the loss, the players can believe they can compete with the top sides in this division and they will need to keep that belief fornext Saturday’s away trip to 2nd placed Worcester Wanderers.
Leek retained 7th place but with Walsall beating Barkers Butts, the gap as closed to 3 points with them in 8th.
Newport beat Hereford, Stoke beat Crewe and Stratford continued their excellent form with another win and Silhillians had their first win at home to Earlsdon.
There is a coach next week to Worcester.
It will leave at 1045. Please be there at 1030and advise Mark Hardern if you intend to travel.
On December 20th, Leek travels to Silhillians for the first game of the 2nd half of the season.
Then on Boxing day, there is the traditional game at Leek. Please bring your kit and if you want a game get there for 10am.
Leek resumes league duty in the new year on Saturday, January 3rd when the Moorlanders entertains Stoke at Ester Chem Park.