Midlands West Two (North) Stafford 3 Leek 38
LEEK swept to a convincing win with six tries tries to maintain fourth spot in the table.
However, the visitors had to weather the opening six minutes without the ball as Stafford retained well and probed the Leek defence.
On six minutes, Leek broke and won a penalty for offside. However, Dan Smith’s 40 yarder fell short.
Six minutes later, Leek opened the scoring following a maul 15 metres out, which Jason Milner controlled with ball in hand to touch down. Dan Smith converted.
Play was back and forth for 10 minutes in midfield when on 22 minutes Stafford won a penalty for “off feet” at the ruck, and the scrum half cooly struck the penalty to reduce the Leek lead to 7-3.
Charlie Futcher received a leg injury at this point and Ed Cheadle came on at hooker. Four minutes later and Stafford had another chance with a penalty, this time for not rolling away at the ruck, but the attempt fell short.
On 29 minutes, a great passage of play from Leek saw a turnover on half way, then good continuity saw the ball rucked in the Stafford 22 before the ball sped wide right for Dan Smith to get on the end of passes to score in the right corner.
Jake Green converted superbly from the touchline to give Leek a handy 14-3 lead.
Right on half time, with Leek looking dangerous on the break, the Moorlanders stole a Stafford line-out on the home side’s 10 metre line.
Naz Narawa burst through tackles before McDermott, with quick ball, released Nick Palmer. He was collared just before the line and threw the pass inside.
It hit a Stafford defender and went in goal, where the alert Jason Milner touched down for his second and Leek’s third try.
Jake Green’s conversion attempt hit the post but as the half closed out, Leek had a solid 19-3 lead.
Two minutes into the second half, Leek wrapped up the try bonus point. McDermott kicked to touch on the Stafford 22 but the resulting clearance kick from the Stafford fly-half only found Dan Smith.
Leek’s forwards then set about retaining possession through a series of rucks and mauls which saw them under the Stafford posts.
Finally, Harris spun the ball left and Ad Nettel crashed over for Leek’s fourth try.
Dan Smith missed the conversion but Leek were up to 24-3.
At this point, the home side needed to lift their game and for the next 15 minutes, they tried hard to break the resolute Leek defence, but couldn’t make any impression in the Leek 22, as forwards and backs tackled aggressively.
On 57 minutes, Jack Taylor came onto the wing and Jake Green moved to full back as Dan Smith gave way.
On 65 minutes, for all Stafford’s possession they were still finding it difficult to make a telling break and frustation set in when Gary McDermott charged down a kick, chipped it ahead, collected the ball and scored a simple try.
Jake Green converted and at 31-3, the game was now beyond Stafford.
Leek continued to press and but for wayward passing and good defence, they might have scored two more tries.
However, on 76 minutes a good Leek line-out saw the pack maul to the Stafford line. Nick Palmer timed his run and crashed over as the ball alighted from the ruck. Jake Green converted again.
A club spokesman said afterwards: “It was an outstanding defensive effort.” Leek take a break from the league this weekend before taking on leaders Moseley Oak at St Edward’s Park on Saturday, March 23. In the earlier fixture, Leek went down 17-11 at Moseley but the Birmingham outfit has improved again and there is a real tussle with Silhillians for the top spot.
Former players are invited to the game to see how the club has progressed and take an opportunity to join social scene.
Saturday is the culmination of the Six Nations Championship, with two matches live on the big screen at the club (Italy v Ireland at 2.30pm and Wales v England at 5pm). Food will be available all day.
There are two home matches with Leek taking on Uttoxeter in a friendly at first team level at 3pm. The bar will be open from 1.30pm.