....who had to win to maintain their 2nd spot and play off place but this performance was much better for the Moorlanders and despite the result, many players are getting the experience required to compete at this level next season.
Tom Laverick was injured in the warm up and that meant a wholesale change to the backs and forwards. Adam Smith moved to the wing as George Hunt came into centre with brother Sam. Ollie Drew and Liam McDermott were at half back and Jack Newton taylor was at full back.
Jason Milner, and brothers Bobby and Ed Cheadle made up the front row with Ben Barlow, from the bench, drafted into lock with Tom Sims. Luke Staton moved to the flank with Simon Drew and Luke Hardern started at No.8.
Nick Thompson came onto the bench from the 3rds alongside Reece Milner and John Brooks.
Leek started brightly and in the 2nd minute had won a penalty in the Worcester 22 for a centre offside. Liam McDermott gave leek the lead. 3-0.
It lasted all of 3 minutes when the Worcester 10 chipped beautifully over the advancing defensive line, the ball was caught by the centre and his inside pass back to the 10 had him opening the visitors’ account. The conversion was good. 3-7.
On 15 minutes, Leek was caught offside on their own 22 and Worcester increased their lead with a penalty. 3-10.
McDermott missed a 23rd minute penalty for a scrum offence before slotting a 31st minute one for not releasing in the tackle after good pressure and ball retention. 6-10
On 35 minutes, Leek was all over the Worcester 22 looking like they would score again and as the ball came into the line, Luke Hardern was tackled off the ball. Leek lost the ensuing ruck and in counter attack mode the Worcester backs ran the length of the field for a try by the posts. The conversion was good and as undeserved as it seemed Worcester had a 6-17 lead. Worse was to follow for Leek when a poor clearance only found willing, strong running backs pouring through increasingly flailing tackles and only a knock on prevented a score. Still from a lineout catch and drive in the Leek 22, the impressive open side flanker scored a try on 41 minutes to extend their lead to 6-22.
There was still time for the visitors to add to their lead from the kick-off return. Leek failed to see the blind-side break and the wing scored his 2nd try and the bonus point 4th for his side as the half time whistle blew at 6-27.
The 2nd half started ominously for Leek as Worcester scored their 5th try 3 minutes in. A frustrated Leek side could only watch as the pressure told and defenders were stretched following strong rucks near the Leek line. 6-32.
On 52 minutes, another catch and drive at the lineout ended with the 6th try. This was converted and at 6-39, it looked like Leek might concede over 50. However, credit is due to the whole team as they fought hard and repelled their opponents for the remainder of the game. Although Leek has its limitations, the exposure to playing against ex academy players will be incentive enough to improve over the summer pre-season.
Special mention must go to a father and son first. Jason Milner and his son Reece are the first father and son combination to play a league match for Leek ( see attachment) and Reece’s rise through the junior ranks is testament to the Leek mini and junior system.
Hereford lost at Silhillians which confirmed Worcester’s play off place, Barkers Butts lost which also meant that Leek could not finish any lower than 10th place. Not Bad at all for a very challenging first season at level 6 and using 44 players in the season.
Next week sees the season climax with a visit of the league champions Newport and another chance for the young Leek players to test themselves against the league’s best.
It is also the beer festival, so please come along and support the team and enjoy the end of season get together.