LEEK successfully came through a traditionally tough place to go and win, scoring an eight tries to two victory over the Linneymen. Indeed, no-one from Leek could remember winning at Ludlow before at first team level.
It is fair to say that Ludlow have had some challenges recently, with coach Dave Irish leaving, captain Darren Brick moving to Bridgnorth and several other players moving to other local clubs.
Leek were coming off the back of the Midlands Cup final win and were missing Tom Hine, Dan Smith, Ian Harris and Luke Staton. James Floyd was fit enough to take his place on the bench with Simon Drew and Luke Hardern.
Jason Milner, Luke Granger and Bobby Cheadle were in the front row. Ed Harrison and Tom Sims were at lock.
Andy McFadden and Ad Nettel were on the flanks and James Wilson was given the no 8 start after his performance coming on for Luke Staton last week.
Dan Needham and Gary McDermott were at half back, and Naz Narawa started at 12 with Liam McDermott at 13.
Nick Palmer, Jack Newton-Taylor and Sam Hunt were the back three.
Although Leek started brightly on a sunlit day, a knock-on two minutes into the game on Ludlow's 10-metre line allowed their mercurial fly half to pick up and work his way through some poor defence before passing to the centres and thence to the right wing for the opening try of the game.
The conversion was missed but an early score had the home support hoping.
It didn't last, though, as Leek came back strongly, dominating possession and territory and on six minutes, after maul and ruck, the ball went wide left on the blindside and Sam Hunt scored the try. Gary McDermott converted to steady the Moorlanders and give them a 7-5 lead.
Ludlow had a ninth-minute penalty attempt for offside but the winger couldn't find the posts. Then, on 20 minutes, the Ludlow prop was yellow-carded for slowing the ball down under his own posts. McDermott opted for the penalty and increased the lead.
At this point, Bobby Cheadle went off with a rib injury and time will tell how serious it is. Simon Drew came on at hooker, as Luke Granger moved to loose head.
From the kick-off, Leek won the ball and great hands and continuity saw Naz Narawa crash through the heart of the defence.
Support came from Luke Granger and after a couple of rucks, James Wilson forced his way over in the right corner for a try. McDermott's conversion missed but Leek were up 15-5.
Five minutes later, Narawa got on the scoresheet, going under the post after Jack Newton Taylor fielded a clearance kick and went on a run into the Ludlow 22.
Great recycling meant the Ludlow defence was powerless to stop the big Fijian scoring. McDermott converted.
Three minutes later, Leek's pace of game and superb handling saw Nick Palmer score a try in the right corner after a quick tap penalty in the Ludlow 22. The conversion was missed but Leek had scored their fourth and bonus point-winning try, to lead 27-5.
As the half ended, Jack Newton-Taylor sprinted 50 metres to the Ludlow line before slipping in front of the full back and was penalised for holding on, but the first period had been very fruitful for Leek and their discipline and continuity almost irresistible.
The first minute of the second half saw Luke Hardern on the charge. He sucked in the defence and allowed space on the left for Newton-Taylor to score. Again, the conversion was missed.
By now, Leek were once again all over the Ludlow defence, and it wasn't long before Luke Granger burst through for a deserved try.
Leek's final try came on 55 minutes when going through the phases, the left wing was exposed and Jack Newton-Taylor scored his second. McDermott's touchline conversion was successful.
Leek introduced James Floyd for 15 minutes to test his knee and he came through without a reaction, as Leek continued to dominate possession and territory.
With time running out, Leek again pressed on the Ludlow five-metre line, but an intercept by the Ludlow fly half saw him sprinting into the Leek end.
An intelligent kick across field allowed the right wing to collect and score. He converted his own try but by that stage it was just a consolation.
With three games to go, Leek extended their lead over Crewe & Nantwich, who lost in the most important game of the day at Moseley Oak. The Birmingham side now sit three points behind Crewe with a game in hand, and 15 points behind Leek with a game in hand.
Bridgnorth won at Stafford to hang on to fourth place.
Leek have a rest day next week ahead of their April 5 clash with Moseley Oak at Esterchem Park.
This is Leek's last home league game of the season and the club has appealed to its members to show their support. A beer festival and a disco will also be taking place.
On April 12, Leek travel to Old Salts, then a week later it's the big day at Esterchem Park in the RFU National Cup semi-finals, as the Moorlanders take on Aspatria from Cumbria for the right to play at Twickenham in the National Intermediate Cup Final.
Watch out for further information about this day on the club website, in the Post & Times and from committee members.
Leek complete their league campaign on April 26 with an away fixture at Camp Hill (3pm).
Midlands Two West (North)
Ludlow 12 Leek 44; Moseley Oak 42 Crewe & Nantwich 23; Old Saltieans 32 Camp Hill 3; Stafford 10 Bridgnorth 30; Tamworth 77 Aston Old Edwardians 10; Wolverhampton 20 Willenhall 17.