Leek 17 Kenilworth 23: Never-say-die Kenilworth take advantage of Leek’s yellow peril

Ed Hannam looks to escape the clutches of two Leek tacklers during Kenilworth's come-from-behind win at Leek. Picture submitted
Ed Hannam looks to escape the clutches of two Leek tacklers during Kenilworth's come-from-behind win at Leek. Picture submitted

From a very indifferent start to the game, Kenilworth managed to turn things around in the second period to inflict a rare home defeat on the Staffordshire side, writes Ralph Murray.

Early play was error-strewn as both sides looked for an advantage.

Alex Selby looked to break the deadlock with a chip-and-chase but play was called back and the returning Harry O’Brien opened Ks’ account with a well-struck penalty.

As Leek looked to get back on terms the Kenilworth defence continued its good form and, from one turnover, O’Brien made a searching break down the right flank and was within metres of the line as he looked to offload. The pass was astray and the Leek full-back intercepted and ran the ball the length of the field to give his side an easily converted try and the lead.

After a series of phases in the Kenilworth red zone, Leek crossed again and, with the advantage out to 11 points, the signs were ominous.

Only an outstanding chase and tackle from Mikkel Andresen prevented further misery for the visitors, who spent the rest of the half on the back foot but prevented any further Leek scoring.

The first ten minutes after the restart saw Kenilworth on the offensive.

One maul got to within metres of the line before being interrupted by three consecutive penalties as Leek sought any means to stem the tide.

There was still nothing to show for the good work and Dale Glover, taking the ball from Selby, slashed a wild lateral kick across the pitch which a surprised Hannam gratefully received and barged over for the score.

O’Brien added the extras to bring it back to 14-10.

Leek responded immediately and were within ten metres of the line when play was called back for a penalty. The kick was successful and the lead was back to a converted try.

Bobby Thompson, at the heart of so much during this game, secured the restart and surged upfield.

The ball was moved quickly and found the returning Jack Gibson who took the outside route to outpace the defence. With the full-back to beat, he stepped effortlessly past him to glide over for an outstanding converted score.

Leek were reduced to 14 after their wing slapped down a Thompson pass and the visitors looked to take full advantage.

They appeared to have driven over although there was no signal, but with Leek in a minor meltdown, their prop took a swing at opposite number Mat Gibson and he too saw yellow.

With their two-men advantage, Kenilworth worked the ball to Ross Lowthian who smashed his way past two defenders from five metres out to put the visitors into the lead with minutes to play.

And, having had to dig deep to find a way out of a hole mostly of their own making, Kenilworth were in no mood to relinquish their advantage.