Frustration and complacency as Leek win 43-14.
Leek keep up the pressure at the top of the league with a win at Linley
Leek travelled to Clough Hall Park with the bare fifteen players as 2 late cry-offs saw the bench depleted. Worst of all, ex 2nd team captain, Phil Tomczak had to get his mum to text for him when his optician’s appointment ended with him unable to see (allegedly).
Returning to the side were 4 of last week’s first team heroes in Jamie Gordon, Andy O, Dean Copperwheat and DJ which goes to show how important the 2nd team have been in supplying players all season.
The front row consisted of Jamie Gordon, Baz and Ryan Day. The youthful Harry Evans and Lewis Dunleavy made up the locks with Matt Tanner, DJ and James Thomson making up the back row. Neil Edge reprised his role at 9 with his 4th half-back partner of the year, Matt Churchill. Dean Copperwheat and Andy O were in the centres, while Sam Marlow made his 2nd team debut on one wing and Joe Cooper played his first match back from injury on the other. The versatile, Ian Alcock was at full back.
The game started off brightly but Leek failed to capitalise on their territory and possession. There was an air of complacency about the side having already beaten Linley twice this season scoring over 170 points in the process and it was the home side who would strike first. Leek lost possession in the Linley 22 and compounded it with 2 further penalties which saw Linley now up to the Leek 5m line. Linley managed to scramble their way over the line in the corner which was followed by a cute conversion. 15 minutes played Linley lead 7-0.
Leek took 10 minutes to reply. A broken field try came in the shape of Joe Cooper who ran in from 15 yards following a mazy run by Andy O. Churchy scored the conversion and Leek were back in the game. It didn’t take long before Leek began to pile the pressure on Linley’s defence, unfortunately, they butchered as many tries as they scored. Three tries should have been scored by Jamie Gordon (double movement), James Thomson (dropped over the line) and Dean Copperwheat (held up). Luckily the latter two made amends, crashing over from close range attacks. James Thomson, cut a fine line to go under the posts, while Dean barrelled over with 3 men still attached. Ian Alcock got the fourth try of the half for Leek with a fine 5-metre dash and crash over the line. Churchy added 1 of the 3 conversions and Leek had a 24-7 lead at half time.
The second half was a dismal affair, maybe it was the 300 scrums, maybe it was the lads with one eye on next week’s Valley steamer and the other eye on DJ’s luminescent boots. Whatever it was, the second half wasn’t vintage rugby.
Linley dominated possession in the most part, using their sizeable forwards to go around the corner for phases at a time. Meanwhile, Leek coughed up possession with a sloppy kicking game and set-piece woes.
Leek’s first score of the second half again came from the flying pig as he followed Churchy’s run into the Linley half. Churchy sucked in two would-be tacklers and passed back inside to Cooper who rounded the full back to score under the posts. Churchy added the extras 31-7.
Then came a dismal period of scrums and stoppages. The game eventually got flowing again and Leek managed to get into the Linley 22 and forced penalty advantage only for this to turned over due to some overzealous, blind, rucking by Jamie “Mad Dog” Gordon. He accidentally made contact with the second row’s head and was lucky to escape with just a yellow.
Linley made their numerical advantage tell and scored a try through their winger who scored under the posts with 10 minutes remaining the game was at 31-14.
For the next 10 minutes, Leek finally decided to turn up and scored two further tries. The first coming from the debutant, Sam Marlow, who went under the posts from 25 yards out after receiving the ball off the evergreen Neil Edge. Edgey had spotted a gap when awarded a penalty and took the quick tap and go. The Linley defence divided like the red sea and this gave him time to feed Sam who scored his well-deserved try. Andy O missed the kick under the posts. 36-14.
From the kick-off, Leek were awarded a scrum for Linley knock on. The referee indicated that this was last play and most Leek players would have been happy to win the scrum and boot the ball out and go for a shower. Leek’s inspirational leader, Andy O, ordered the troops to play on and look for a further score.
As it was, Leek played from their own 22 and within a couple of phases they had set up good attacking ball which saw Cooper with the opportunity to score his hattrick. He’d gone down the left wing and only had the full back to beat but he bottled it and tried to run over the 15 who happily tackled him. The forwards remained calm and played two more phases before Churchy could unleash Andy O, who darted through the centres to make amends for his earlier conversion miss. Cooper converted and the game was over. 43-14.
It’s not often you win by such a wide margin and feel aggrieved that the side hasn’t turned up. We’ll definitely need to be much cuter next week as we play the Quarter Final up at Hope Valley. We can expect a hostile environment and much more physicality from the opposition. Their 8,9 and 13 seemingly their key players. We will have to ensure that the occasion doesn’t get in the way of the rugby.
Hope Valley are a first team and as such we can expect a more organised, tighter affair. They currently sit 2nd in their league, like ourselves so it looks on paper to be a barnstormer of a match. Those selected to play on Saturday need to make the effort to train on Tuesday and Thursday.