Midlands Two West (North)
Tamworth 1XV 15 Leek 1XV 10
A LATE George Hunt try secured an under-strength Leek a bonus point in Saturday's opening Midlands Two West (North) match of the season at Tamworth.
And despite conceding two tries directly as a result of line-outs new skipper Tom Hine took plenty of positives from the game. He said: "On a hot day it was a test for the whole squad - and I am pleased we were able to keep in the game and come away with something. However, we need to keep working on the line-out"
Leek, who welcomed back head coach Ian Gittens, were without several players through injury and holidays. The visitors started with Jason Milner, Dan Bould and Jamie Gordon in the front row and Tony Hine and Tom Simms as lock forwards. Simon Drew and veteran Neil Edge started as flankers with Andy McFadden at number eight.
Dave Kennaway was drafted in at scrum-half with Gary McDermott at fly-half. Shane Dickers and George Hunt started in the centre with Palmer and Harris on the wings with Dan Smith stepping up at full-back.
Play was centred around the halfway line over the opening quarter of an hour with neither team able to take advantage. On 18 minutes Tamworth won what proved a decisive line-out on Leek's five-metre line. A great catch and drive followed with Tamworth utilising their powerful forwards to maximum effect for the opening score which went unconverted,they were able to take the lead.
With their tails in the air the hosts had Leek on the back foot with the Moorlanders forced to defend well and keep themselves in the game. Tamworth were kept at bay and on 38 minutes Leek won a penalty which McDermott duly converted from 25 yards.
Leek looked set to enter the break just two points adrift but from the last play of the half a 15-metre penalty allowed Tamworth to stretch their advantage to 8-3.
Tamworth offered most threat at the start of the second half as Leek struggled to control their line-outs. On 65 minutes young Ed Harrison and club veteran Jason Reaney replaced injured duo Gordon and Harris. Reaney then started to show his experience with some great ball carries and with Hine's leadership qualities on display Leek started to place Tamworth under pressure with some controlled aggressive forward play.
Leek's backs began to threaten for the first time before the away side's Achilles' heal again came to play on 70 minutes. The visitors failed to hold their own line-out and Tamworth punished the away side by scoring a converted try under the posts to take a 15-3.
Leek's fitness levels helped keep them in the game and on 75 minutes George Hunt scored a well worked team try. The move started with Harrison and Reaney driving forward over the halfway line before some lovely link-up play with the backs allowed Hunt to throw a body swerve and score under the posts. Mcdermott converted but time was against Leek as the match finished 15-10 in Tamowrth's favour.
Leek are again on their travels this weekend at Aston Old Edwardians (3pm).