AVOIDING relegation from Midlands Two West North remains the main objective of Leek Rugby Club according to John McDermott - despite Saturday's thumping 60-0 victory taking the Cheddleton-based side up to fourth in the table.
"Last season's fifth place and 13 wins would be a good finish, but the first target is to retain Midlands Two status," insisted the former chairman. "Only consistent performances will allow this and everyone needs to keep focussed and continue to work hard in training."
Sam Hunt racked up 20 points with the boot in the eight-try mauling of rock bottom Lordswood Dixoninans. Nick Palmer, Dan Smith and Adam Nettel each claimed two scores while Gary McDermott and Luke Hardern also crossed the line in Leek's most impressive victory this season. Leek coach Ian Gittens said: "A good win and score off the back of the heavy defeat two weeks previous - some top draw stuff. We must concentrate on ball retention and reduce other errors to improve further.
Captain Tom Hine added: "A much improved performance and great to see some of the younger guys making a difference."
Leek were on the board after just five minutes when an off-side decision gave Hunt a simple kick for 3-0. From the kick off Hunt made a break before his pass to Gary McDermott allowed the fly-half to send a simple pass to Palmer to score under the posts. Hunt converted to extend the advantage to 10-0.
Over the next 15 minutes Leek's impatience to force the play led to a number of knock-ons inside the Dixonians 22. Hunt kept the scoreboard ticking on 26 minutes when Dixonians were penalised for not binding in the scrum. The away side spurned an opportunity to reduce the lead just after he half hour mark when a penalty for offside was sent wide of the mark.
Leek continued to dominate but the resolute Dixonians defence kept the score at 13-0 to the interval. Luke Hardern and Tom Tavacece were then introduced and with Gittens's call for increased patience ringing in their ears Leek bagged their second try on 44 minutes. Gary McDermott punished a handling error inside Dixonians' 22 for a simple score which Hunt superbly converted.
On 51 minutes a ruck ball win on Leek's own 10-metre line came before a series quick passes to find Dan Smith on the blind wing. Smith then out sprinted the defence to score a great try which Hunt again converted for 27-0.
Dixonians looked to hit back and two quick penalties ensured that the Leek defence remained alert. Aggressive play at the third ruck forced a turnover allowing Leek to run the ball out of defence. Great continuity and support finally meant Dixonians ran out of defenders and Nettel made sure of the bonus point with his side's fourth try. Hunt added the extras to extend the lead to 34-0.
On 65 minutes Leek won their own line-out on the Dixonians 22 and the ball was fed to Lee Williams. He burst one tackle before off-loading to Hardern who went over for his score. Hunt the n successfully kicked his fifth conversion.
With Dixonians tiring another sweeping move down the right on 75 minutes pulled the defence over for an unconverted Nick Palmer try in the left corner. The pressure was unrelenting and on 82 minutes a Dixonians clearance kick found Palmer 35 metres out on the left. Palmer out sprinted the defence before his pass found Ad Nettel who went over for his second try and the conversion took the score to 53-0. There was still time for Leek to score try number eighty when good retention by the forwards saw Jamie Gordon set up a ruck that allowed Smith to burst through the defence for his second of the day. Hunt converted his seventh from eight to bring his personal tally to 20 points and end the scoring at 60-0.
Leek RUFC president Gareth Jones said: "A great win and all thanks to coaches and players for bouncing back and providing a confidence-boosting performance. Younger players like Ed Cheadle and Ed Harrison are improving all the time and getting the game time required to boost the experience required to maintain league status."
Leek travel to old rivals Veseyans this Saturday (3pm).