Leek 54 v Stoke 19
An exciting game of rugby
On a sunny but windy day Leek hosted our very good friend Simon Ashcroft and his Stoke team at Esterchem Park in a friendly.
Leek started like a rocket and kept to the game plan superbly using the forwards to drive up the park straight from the kick off – they secured good ball from the back of the ruck on the 5m line and James Hunt fed Joe Byrne who darted over on the blind side for the first try. Conversion was missed.
The next try was some of the best handling that we have seen from this Leek side for many a long month. A quick penalty was taken on our 10m line and four passes later and Ollie Ryder – in his new position of winger – outstripped the winger to score in the corner. Conversion from the touch line this time went over.
Leek continued the game plan using their forwards superbly and then exploded to use their back line who looked dangerous everytime they received the ball.
Two more tries followed by Hayden Heath and Matt Beardmore – both were converted. Leek were holding a 26-0 lead when unfortunately a Stoke player was sent to the sin bin for handling on the floor.
This made the next ten minutes tough for Stoke and Leek scored a further two tries through Oliver Powell and Tom Rigby whose footwork to finish his try was nothing short of exceptional – both were converted.
Leek were now leading 40-0 – Stoke began applying pressure of their own on the Leek line and indiscipline from the forwards at the breakdown led to four penalties/penalty advantages – at the last of these penalties the ref sent Matt Beardmore to the bin. At the resulting penalty Stoke attacked and Leek were guilty of not retreating 10m and a penalty try was awarded and Joe Byrne was sent to the sin bin!!
It has to be commented that this first half display was truly exceptional and a true marker of how well the boys can play.
Half time score was 40-7.
The start of the second half was always going to be tough being down to 13 men. Leek defended resolutely and only conceded one try in this period and the conversion hit the post and was missed. Leek 40- Stoke 12.
With Leek back to a full compliment it took a further 10 minutes for the structure to return to our game. Further tries from Oliver Powell and Ollie Ryder which were both converted put the score to 54-12.
Stoke never gave and continued to attack scoring the last try of the game which was converted.
Final score was Leek 54 – Stoke 19. It was a thoroughly enjoyable game and the score line doesn’t reflect the quality that both teams showed on the day.
Although I don’t like to single out individuals – I feel I need to mention two lads Max Hill and Henry Thackstone – between them they can probably muster 6 games for school and club. Both boys acquitted themselves admirably and it was pleasing after the game when parents and coaches were saying you would never have known they had played limited rugby.