Midlands Two West North
Moseley Oak 37 Leek 18
LEEK surrendered their 100 per cent record to a more powerful Moseley Oak side, ending a run of 10 straight league wins.
Jack Conlon, Jason Milner and Bobby Cheadle were in the Leek front row and Ed Harrison and Luke Hardern were at lock. James Wilson retained the No 8 spot with Ad Nettel and Andy McFadden on the flanks.
Liam McDermott was drafted into scrum half to partner skipper and brother Gary McDermott at half back. Josh Mays Woodhead moved from 13 to 12 this week and Sam Hunt started at 13. James Floyd, Nick Palmer and Jack Newton Taylor made up the back three.
On the bench, Jamie Gordon, Dan Smith and a welcome return for Naz Narawa were in for a busy afternoon.
In the 14th minute, Gary McDermott slotted a penalty from over halfway after a Moseley forward failed to roll away.
On 19 minutes, with Leek on the Moseley 22, the ball went loose and after one pass to the left wing, he fended off four tackles to score a fine try. The conversion was missed.
Four minutes later and good handling by the Moseley forwards and then the backs saw the right wing sprint in under the posts, again after some poor tackling. The conversion was good.
On 26 minutes, Leek were turned over running the ball out of their 22 and a pick-up on the blind side allowed a soft try in the right corner. The conversion was missed.
On 30 minutes, Nick Palmer left the field with a shoulder injury and Naz Narawa came on.
Three minutes later, a Moseley penalty saw them kick for the line-out at Leek's 22. A powerful drive by the forwards saw Moseley scoring their fourth try from the maul. The conversion was missed.
Naz Narawa's first touch ended with a broken nose as he drove into two tacklers and had to leave the field. Dan Smith came on at full back and Jack Taylor moved to the wing.
On 41 minutes, Leek won a penalty and McDermott kicked for the line-out at Moseley's 22. A catch-and-drive saw Luke Hardern touch down. McDermott converted to reduce the margin before half -time.
Leek started the second half strongly and on 43 minutes, after persistent pressure on the Moseley five-metre line, the home forwards were penalised and McDermott converted from in front of the posts to give Leek some hope at 22-13.
However, this was the closest it would get for Leek in the second period of the match, as Moseley took control. Jack Conlon departed on 47 minutes with a head knock and Leek's scrum came under more pressure.
On 52 minutes, a strong scrum near Leek's line led to an unconverted try on the left as the loose forwards drove to the line.
Leek had a chance when Jack Taylor made it to the Moseley five-metre line but a penalty against Leek for holding on was then made worse when Jason Milner was yellow-carded on 63 minutes for clearing out illegally.
The ensuing line-out was followed by a driving maul which was held up over the line, but from the now uncontested scrum, strong ball retention and a stretched Leek defence led to the Moseley lock scoring a great try on the left. The conversion attempt was missed.
Leek then had a spell of "keep ball". Ed Harrison tried hard and finally the loose forwards gained some continuity, allowing Gary McDermott a one-on-one, and he duly side-stepped his man to score a try on 70 minutes.
His conversion attempt was charged down but Leek had stemmed the red tide for a while at 32-18.
The last score went to Moseley, though, as the game entered stoppage time and the impressive No 8 crashed over from a pick up at the ruck to complete the scoring.
Ad Nettel worked hard all game in the back row for Leek and he is showing signs of getting back to top form, but he will need the assistance of the rest of the squad to bounce back and be counted in the upcoming cup games.
Leek's league campaign restarts on January 4 with a home fixture against Stafford.
The Moorlanders must now concentrate on training and working hard to get back on track.
Meanwhile, Crewe and Nantwich took advantage of Leek's defeat to take over top spot, after stopping Old Salts' recent four-game winning run.
Wins for Ludlow and Bridgnorth kept the pressure on in the top half. Stafford won the battle of the basement, while Wolves are improving in mid-table.
This Saturday, Leek travel to Loughborough to take on the Mids East 2 (North) side in the quarter-final of the Midlands section of the RFU Intermediate Cup.
There is a coach for players and supporters departing the clubhouse at 11am. Anyone wishing to travel should arrive for 10.45.
Call Mark Hardern on 07870 559213 or John McDermott on 07973 424225 or email him (email@example.com) to confirm if you are using the coach.
The coach is expected to arrive at Loughborough at 12.30 for 2pm kick and arrive back in Leek by about 9pm.
On Boxing Day, there is the traditional Thirds v Vets game. The clubhouse will open around 10.30am, with kick-off scheduled for around 11am.
LEEK'S under-9s travelled to Ashbourne to take on both the hosts and Barton in a triple-headed fixture.
A total of six games were played with the Leek squad splitting into two teams, both coming away unbeaten.
Leek's tries were scored by Kinney Critchlow (5); Noah Reaney, Joshua Nadin and Sam Heath with two each; Logan Robinson, Joe Knight, Lewis Sale and Oliver Hall.
Ashbourne 0 Leek 66
JOE Byrne had a great game for Leek scoring a brace. Holly Fryer ran through all the Ashbourne team for a great individual score and then crashed over for a second.
Harvey Dunleavy also blasted through the Ashbourne defence to score in the corner, with Tom Rigby copying his teammate for a similar score.
Jarred Leftwich charged over from close in, with Marcus Dawson doing the same with four Ashbourne defenders hanging off him. Hayden Heath and Dominic Winwood completed a very impressive win for Leek.
Barton 21 Leek 29
LEEK faced a tough challenge from Barton but took an early three-try lead from scores by Holly Fryer, Joe Byrne and Hayden Heath.
Barton then came back with three tries of their own and converted every score to earn a four-point lead.
Leek made some late substitutions and Jarred Leftwich crashed over to give Leek a one point lead.
Leek continued to pile on the pressure and won the game with a late score from the impressive Marcus Dawson.
Ashbourne 14 Leek 47
LEEK started brightly, with Josh DeGale scoring a try after great work from his fellow centre Mitch Whilock. Joel Hine caught the ball and advanced forward before off-loading to Will Midwinter, who sprinted clear to score.
The home side regrouped and through hard tackling and solid phases of possession, the game became a good even contest.
Joel Hine picked up and powered his way through to put Leek further ahead.
As the game neared half-time, Ashbourne began to get more territory and the Leek back three of Cartlidge, Lyttleton and Challinor had to tackle well to keep the hosts at bay.
However, Ashbourne grabbed a well-deserved try on the stroke of half-time.
The second half saw both teams battle hard and cancel each other out.
Debutante Joe Smith came on as prop for Leek, along with Shane Salt and powerhouse Josh Sales moving to hooker.
Tom Leach came into the second row, showing what good options Leek now have in their forward pack.
As the game moved on, Leek worked an overlap which livewire Sam Brereton finished off in style.
Another good overlapping move saw DeGale combine with flying wing Jenny Hesketh, who looked destined to score before a marvellous covering tackle saw her recycle the ball.
Again, the Leek pack drove over. with Max Hine using all his strength to barge his way over to score.
The Leek defence worked hard but could not prevent a second Ashbourne try.
The Derbyshire side penned Leek back again but this left space behind, which fly half Will Midwinter exploited by racing the length of the pitch for a brilliant individual try.
The team try of the game followed when from a scrum deep in the visitors' own half , the Leek backs ran a switch move which DeGale and Max Hine drove up the pitch before offloading for Joel Hine to collect and break clear to score under the posts.
Burton 12 Leek 7
THE HOSTS piled on the pressure but Leek's defence held strong and the two well-matched sides were locked in a quality game.
The deadlock was broken by a charge-down from Burton, with the ball falling kindly for the home team.
Burton continued to apply pressure, with the Leek side unable to get possession, and this eventually resulted with another score.
The intensity was increased and Leek's strong running forwards started to make inroads to the Burton defence.
Finally, the back line got moving and a nicely-worked backs move put George Dennison in space.
Dennison burned his way through the Burton line to score a well-worked try. Jack Winfield was successful with the conversion.
Leek continued to apply pressure and despite a one-man advantage – after a Burton forward was yellow-carded for poor tackling – the Moorlanders were unable to balance the scores.