Rugby: Taylor impact gives hope to Leek youngsters, says Edge
JACK Taylor's try-scoring debut has shown Leek's young guns if you're good enough you're old enough, says director of rugby Neil Edge.
Taylor made a fine first impression in a 44-5 demolition of Veseyans that acted as a show of strength for the Moorlanders' burgeoning junior system.
The 19-year-old full-back will retain his place in the first XV against Old Saltleians as his side continue to hover around the upper echelons of a tightly-packed Midlands Two West (North).
"We have got a good squad, not a huge squad," said Edge.
"In a few positions we don't have the depth, but on the whole we have the competition I've been crying out for over the past couple of seasons.
"Jack was given his first start on Saturday and grabbed the opportunity with both hands, so he will keep his place for a big test against Old Salts.
"He has shown to the other young lads that if you can push hard enough and take your chances when they come along that you will be given a shirt."
Only 10 points separate Wolves in first from seventh-placed Spartans and the bonus column could be the difference between a successful year and mid-table.
Edge has emphasised the importance of improvement in that department and, with four bonuses on the board, Leek are already halfway to matching last year's total efforts.
The ability to keep going from first whistle to last through the season will depend on youngsters like Taylor stepping up when called upon.
Edge said: "It is far too soon to look to closely at the table, but this division is throwing up some strange results. We have done well one week only to go and get stuffed the next.
"The main thing I have been happy with this season is that we have been picking up bonus points.
"We finished fifth last season when we could easily have finished third if we had kept battling for 80 minutes in games we might already have won, or lost, along the way.
"Every point will count and we are calling on our whole squad to keep going through every match, even when the result is seemingly in the bag."
STAFFORD, in fourth, sit just a place behind Leek and level on points following their Dan Smith-inspired 15-5 beating of Tamworth.
This time they make the difficult trip to Moseley Oak, who lie two points better off in second place after losing 29-19 to Wolves last time out.
STOKE, who lie seventh, have a key chance to cement their place in the top half of Midlands One West (North) when they host sixth-placed Whitchurch.
The Barlaston boys eased to a 36-19 triumph over Stratford last weekend, but need to stop a trend of loss-win-loss-win-loss-win which has gripped them since mid-September.
Whitchurch lost a 34-26 thriller against Burton last weekend.
MIDLANDS Three West (North) title-chasers NEWCASTLE are at second-bottom Cleobury Mortimer having just produced their best display of the season to hammer Shrewsbury 63-13.
Castle will be looking for maximum points to drag themselves clear of Burntwood, with whom they currently share the top spot.
Third-bottom ECCLESHALL ran Burntwood close last weekend before eventually going down 27-14. They entertain Stourbridge Lions this weekend.
UTTOXETER are also gunning for promotion in Midlands Four West (North) and face their biggest test of the season at leaders Market Drayton on the back of a free weekend.
Props Rob Armet (back) and Dan Meads (dislocated shoulder) may be available while James Williams (broken toe) should be fine after the enforced break.
However, Paul Milward may have broken a hand, Jim Holmes is nursing a knee injury and Alex Crisp faces further time on the sidelines with a bad ankle.
Winger James Gill said: "I feel the rest will have done the squad good.
"We have a fair few players that are carrying a few niggles.
"Players have been playing through a few aches and pains and the week away will certainly leave us more refreshed, and eager to get into the leaders Market Drayton.
"Drayton have been quite free scoring, but we've conceded less points than anyone in the league and we won't be wanting to give up our tight defensive record easily."