Midlands Two West (North)
Leek 1sts 38 Ludlow 1sts 5
LEEK extended their unbeaten league run to 10 after a bonus point win against traditionally very tough opponents at Esterchem Park on Saturday.
The win increased their lead at the top of the table to four points as Crewe and Nantwich defeated Moseley Oak in Cheshire.
With the ground damp and underfoot conditions slippery due to heavy overnight rain, it was the first taste of the pitch in winter for Leek and the game kicked off on a windless afternoon watched by another crowd of over 100.
It took Leek just three minutes to get on the score board when the Ludlow backs were penalised for offside at the ruck. Gary McDermott's 35 metre kick from in front of the posts giving the hosts an early 3-0 lead.
Four minutes later, the lead doubled after a dangerous break from the Leek backs into the Ludlow 22 found the defence offside again. A simple conversion followed and Leek were 6-0 up.
The long journey for the Ludlow lads was beginning to ease out when on 13 minutes their excellent No 8 picked up from the base of a scrum on Leek's 10-metre line. He was hauled down five-metres from the Leek line and then Leek was penalised for not releasing in the tackle. A quick tap followed, Leek's good defence held but there was a warning of the offensive capability of the visitors.
On 16 minutes, Ian Harris had a fine blindside break into the Ludlow 22 and another offside offence gave McDermott a penalty chance but this time it missed.
On 19 minutes, after a Ludlow clearance found James Floyd on halfway, the right wing broke into the Ludlow 22.
Liam McDermott crashed his way to the five-metre line before great hands left saw Nick Palmer sprint in for the opening try of the day. McDermott's conversion missed but an 11-0 lead at the end of the first quarter was reward for tLeek's attacking mentality.
It was soon 14-0 on 22 minutes with another penalty from Gary McDermott for not releasing in the tackle and the same offence on 29 minutes ticked the score to 17-0 when McDermott converted.
On 36 minutes, Ludlow finally had some reward for their efforts when they won a penalty for offside and a quick tap saw Leek's defence stretched again.
Another penalty came on Leek's five-metre line and quick ball left allowed a good final pass to find the left wing who scored a try in the left corner. The conversion missed but at 17-5, Ludlow had reduced the lead and had real hope as the half closed out.
Leek started the second half with determination and only a not straight lineout on Ludlow's five-metre line on 48 minutes stopped a dangerous position.
Two minutes later and Leek was mauling on the Ludlow five-metre line. With ball secured, Leek's Jason Milner was penalised for an illegal bind and was yellow carded.
Still Leek pressed and on 56 minutes, Ludlow's No 8 was yellowed for a deliberate palm down as he prevented a pass that may have led to a try. The ensuing penalty allowed Gary McDermott to kick for the line-out about 15-metres from the Ludlow line.
A solid catch and drive, then led to a couple of rucks before Gary McDermott fed brother Liam. His back angled run saw the youngster sprint through the hole and past would be tacklers to score Leek's second try. Brother Gary's conversion was good and Leek was up to 24-5.
Back came Ludlow and two chances in the next 10 minutes were rebuffed by Leek's determined defence until on 70 minutes, after rucking near Leek's line, the ball sped out to the Ludlow backs.
A fine tackle saw the ball go loose and Ad Nettel picked up. He fed Jack Newton Taylor just outside the Leek 22 and the full back left every defender in his wake as he scored under the posts. Gary McDermott converted and at 31-5 with eight minutes to go, it was now a question of whether Leek could score the fourth try.
On 76 minutes, a Leek break on the right from their own 22 saw Gary McDermott chip the ball down the right wing for James Floyd to gather. He secured the ball, set up the ruck and the ball sped out left where Sam Hunt ghosted between the last two defenders over the line. Somehow, the cover defence brilliantly held the ball up and a five-metre scrum was awarded.
The ball was won and try as they might, the Ludlow defence held and then it won a turnover under the posts. The backs tried to run the ball out of defence, but persistent tackling by Leek now gave them a turnover.
Jason Milner and Ian Harris combined to get to the Ludlow line. The ball was recycled and Luke Hardern crashed through two defenders to score the bonus point try. Gary McDermott converted and the game ended with a final score of 38-5.
Leek can be extremely satisfied at the performance and result against a tough and resolute opponent in Ludlow.
The result sets up this weekend's encounter at Billesley Common against Moseley Oak perfectly. Unbeaten at home and nursing a pointless defeat at Crewe this week, Oak will be a formidable test for Leek (kick off 2.15pm).
The other league fixtures saw Old Salts won their fourth consecutive game at Camp Hill and Bridgnorth got back to winning ways against Stafford.
Wolverhampton pipped Willenhall and Tamworth won comfortably at Aston.
As the season approaches half way, Leek know they have to maintain their focus and commitment to training as December's league and cup fixtures fit around the seasonal break.
Midlands Two West (North)
Aston Old Edwardians 0 Tamworth 59; Bridgnorth 41 Stafford 20; Camp Hill 13 Old Saltleians 18; Crewe & Nantwich 20 Moseley Oak 8; Willenhall 11 Wolverhampton 13.
Leek U15 22 Buxton U15 14
THE OPPOSITION looked a much stronger and fitter team than the one Leek faced last season.
Buxton pressed hard for a period of 15 minutes, probing and pushing. But great tackling from all the Leek team, noticeably Scott Pearson and Liam Davies in his first ever game, kept them at bay.
Leek put together some good passages of play, with the backs looking threatening.
Louis Knight chipped over the Buxton back line with great support from Ryan Bourne, but the ball was ripped away by a Buxton player who raced off for a breakaway try.
Leek made a number of changes at half-time to give all the squad a run out and this resulted in the pack moving up a gear and shoving Buxton off there own scrum ball.
Liam Davies had moved to centre and he took quick ball from Louis Knight and stepped inside his man to feed Sam Fieldhouse, who finished off a great unconverted try.
This galvanised Leek and at the next scrum the tight five repeated the ball win. Great scrummaging from Harry Smith, Josh Smith, Josh Phillips, Harry Evans and Adam Smith, saw the backs whip the ball along the three-quarter line for Fieldhouse to score his second try with a very strong finish.
Leek were now in control of a very resilient Buxton team and the backs and forwards started linking and producing great continuity, for Jonah Smith to surge over for a try after a drive through three or four tacklers. Louis Knight converted.
From the kick off, the Leek backs took the ball on through three or four phases, Davies driving and stepping well, with great support into the line by Adam Ashworth at full back.
The forwards took the ball on, with Jonah Smith driving hard for the line with Josh Bailey helping take him over for Jonah's first try of the game, which was not converted.
Leek continued probing and driving, Josh Phillips and Harry Smith both making good yards. The ball was worked to within yards only for Buxton to make a great steal and end the game with a converted breakaway try.
Parents player of the match: Scott Pearson Coaches player of the match: Liam Davies
Leek U17s 21 Burntwood 5
LEEK move to second in the league with this victory.
As expected, this game was a much closer affair than the last time the teams met.
From the kick off, an unforced error gave Burntwood the initiative and Leek had to defend some well worked pick and drives.
Leek started to gain some possession but could never really get there go forward game going.
Eventually, however the pressure paid for Leek and Ryan Day was able to drive over under the posts, successfully converted by Winfield.
This was the only score of the first half and Leek turned round into the wind with it all to do.
James Taylor final drove over for the next score which was also converted.
Indiscipline in the tackle area by Leek and a strong functioning Burntwood lineout helped the visitors gain some territory.
The pressure eventually paid and Burntwood went over for a deserved score. The conversion attempt was missed.
The final score came from the Leek centre Dan Sharratt, who pounced on a dropped ball in the Burntwood midfield to race 40 yards to touch down under the posts.
Sandbach 38 Leek 21
LEEK fell behind to a converted try, despite good defensive work.
Josh DeGale responded for Leek by powering his way through from a ruck to score a try, which was converted.
The score seemed to galvanise Sandbach and despite the valiant efforts of Max Hine, Mitch Whilock and Sam Brereton they scored two tries, only one of which was converted.
The second half began as the first had ended, with fast powerful attacks from the Cheshire outfit resulting in two more tries.
A change in tactics saw Leek commit fewer players to the rucks and this held back the Sandbach tide.
Leek started to gain an advantage in the scrums and Will Midwinter finished a great try created by Sam Lloyd and Mitch Whilock.
Leek rolled up their sleeves and improved rucking allowed DeGale to score his second try of the game, which Midwinter converted.
Altrincham Kersall 7 Leek 21
ALTRINCHAM had a good move down the Leek flank but tackles from Josh Lyttleton and Henry Weetman kept out the Cheshire team.
AK scored just before half time but Leek moved up through the gears in the second period. Joel Hine and Rowan Blanchard drove AK off the ball allowing prop Josh Sales to pick and force his way over the line to bring the scores level.
Leek were now in the ascendancy as they broke forward from deep in their own territory.
Some great moves resulted in further tries from Josh DeGale and Will Midwinter.