....almost squeezed a bonus point for 4 tries just falling short scoring 3.
Ian Harris was back at scrum half with Liam McDermott at 10. Jack Newton Taylor, Adam Smith and Ollie Drew made up the back 3 with Sam and George Hunt in the centre.
Jason Milner, Ed and Bobby Cheadle made up the front row with Tom Sims and Ed Harrison at lock. Luke Hardern was at No.8 and Luke Staton and Simon Drew were on the flanks.
On the bench were John Brooks, Reece Milner and Andy McFadden.
It was a perfect pitch on a warm and dry day and Newport set about demonstrating why they have won all but one game this season. Their slick handling in the backs, playing at pace was too much for Leek and in centre Hendry Vaka, a player who was almost unstoppable.
He scored the opening try on 4 minutes and his 2nd on 18 minutes and sandwiched in between on 6 minutes and 14 minutes were 2 further tries to secure a bonus point. Leek had been trying to defend as best they could but it was an uphill struggle but when they did get the ball, it was clear they could retain it and make some progress until breakdown.
However the next score was from Leek on 22 minutes. A penalty allowed a kick for the 5 metre lineout. It was lost but the ball bounced awkwardly for the defence and another lineout for Leek was won and from the catch and drive Ian Harris darted over for Leek’s opening try. 5-24. Liam McDermott’s conversion missed.
Leek won the restart and pressed again and had another penalty on 27 minutes. The line was won and the excellent drive had Ian Harris over the line again but he was held up and the ensuing 5 metre scrum was lost and Newport ran the ball up field and scored again. 5-31.
The half was ended with one more Newport score on 37 minutes. 5-36.
The 2nd second half opened superbly for Leek. The kick off went 10 metres and Andy McFadden caught it cleanly. His momentum allowed Leek’s forwards to get on the front foot and eventually a good maul had the Newport forwards engaging. This meant Sam Hunt could exploit the gap when the ball was released and his superbly timed pass to full back Jack Newton Taylor had the youngster handing off the winger to score a great try in the left corner. The conversion missed but after less than 2 minutes of the half, it was clear that Leek’s target was a try bonus point. 10-36.
Newport steadied their ship and then ran in 5 unanswered tries on 44, 46, 52, 54 and 65 minutes with some superb handling that Leek’s players were powerless to prevent. 10-67.
Leek’s 3rd try came next though on 73 minutes after another great maul on Newport’s 22 allowed Ian Harris to score his 2nd try at the back of the drive. The Sam Hunt conversion missed. 15-67.
Leek was pressing now for their 4th try and Newport had to defend strongly and on 81 minutes a turnover, with Leek in a good position, led to Newport’s final try and conversion. 15-74.
The final whistle blew on the season and it had been a privilege to watch Newport’s squad playing at a high tempo with pace and skill but an even bigger privilege to watch and follow the Leek players and the coaches, Ian Gittens and Chris Mudd, on their journey through Midlands 1 clubs this season.
Well done guys from the supporters and members.
Finishing 10th of 14 and winning 8 games with 14 bonus points ensured Midlands 1 rugby next season as Berkswell, Earlsdon and Barkers Butts were relegated and Silhillians survived in 11th.
Worcester must now win a play-off match if they are to be promoted to National 3 Midlands where they would be playing Lichfield and Longton from Staffordshire.
Relegated from National 3 will be Burton and Dudley Kingswinford, 2 local sides that Leek will be relishing to meet.
Promoted from Midlands 2 West (N) is Bridgnorth, having won every game and Twickenham bound as Leek last season.
With the potential new league structure on hold now with the Northern league clubs rebelling against the move from 14 team leagues to 12 team leagues, it is to be seen if there is a new level inserted in 2016/17 or not.
Whatever the outcome, Leek exposed 44 different players to Midlands 1 rugby this season and that experience needs to be built on in pre-season to produce a strong start next season.
Finally, Gary McDermott’s 2 year stint as club captain came to an end and it has been a privilege to watch him lead the side everySaturday and lead it from the front. No-one has put more commitment into the job of captaincy and playing than he has over the last 2 years and his experience will support the next captain whoever it is.
Author John McDermott