With 3 good wins behind them, the Moorlanders travelled to Watton Lane with confidence against a side they had beaten twice last year, but who again were riding high in 2nd place this term.
Nearly at full strength, Leek's front row was Joe Taylor, Dave Ackerley and Jason Milner. At lock were Tom Sims and Tom Hine and the back row was Andy McFadden and Adam Nettel on the flanks with Luke Staton at No.8.
Ian Harris and Gary McDermott were at half back and Shane Dicker and George Hunt were at centre with Nick palmer and Adam Smith on the wings and Sam Hunt at full back.
The day was perfect for rugby and Leek had an excellent 4th minute penalty to give them an early lead, but Sam Hunt's kick went wide. The game then flowed from one 22 to the other as both sides tested the defences and found little way through as disciplined lines left the backs with a lot to think about. then on 17 minutes, Leek conceded a penalty for an offside at the maul and the Old Salts fly half kicked the penalty to hand the home side a 3-0 lead.
On 26 minutes, leek was pressing as quick rucks moved the visitors to within 30 meters and then the reward of a penalty for offside allowed Sam Hunt another attempt to put Leek on the board, but again, his kick went wide.
5 minutes later and Leek was caught offside and the reliable 10 doubled Old Salts lead to 6-0.
On 34 minutes, Leek won another penalty for offside and this time Sam Hunt found his target and reduced the lead to 6-3.
As the half closed at 6-3, both sides knew it was going to be a very tough 2nd stanza.
On 47 minutes Sam Hunt had another attempt to draw level, but his penalty for offside fell short this time and on 54 minutes Adam Smith made way for Simon Drew on the wing.
2 minutes later and Leek was now pressing deep in the Old Salts 22 and a quick penalty from Ian Harris saw the forwards at the line, but they were turned over and Old Salts cleared.
On 59 minutes, Leek won a scrum against the head and then a drive for the line by the back row saw a knock on prevent a score.
Back came Old Salts on 62 minutes and their forwards pressed the Leek line, but great defence saw the Moorlanders clear with a penalty for holding on.
On 71 minutes, Tom Hine was replaced by James hall for his league debut at lock.
On 76 minutes and the decisive error that won and lost the game came from a Leek lineout just inside their own 22. The ball was caught low near the front of the line and the forwards momentum caught Leek's defence outnumbered and the powerful No8 went over for the score. The conversion was good and at 13-3, Leek needed to concentrate and try and win a penalty for at least a point in the remaining few minutes.
As the game entered the 80th minute, Leek was pressing hard after a great break by Nick Palmer saw the wing knocked into touch near the Old Salts 5 metre line. Then Joe Taylor charged down the attempted clearance on the Old Salts line and Leek won a scrum.
It was all or nothing now as the Moorlanders gave everything to the scrum and subsequent patient rucks. Finally, it set up a chance wide and McDermott's long pass to Simon drew on the left wing looked like a scoring pass, but a great tackle and knock on prevented the score.
It looked all over for Leek as the game entered the 84th minute and Jamie Gordon came on for Jason Milner, but Leek had one more chance as Old Salts cleared desperately. Sam Hunt caught and ran the ball back into the Old Salts 22. Rucks and mauls later and finally the ball came out to McDermott whose inside pass to Adam Nettel saw the flanker shoot over the line for what looked like a worthy score, but he was brilliantly held up and although the referee was playing advantage for the penalty out wide, Leek couldn't make the final play pay and lost the ball over the line to end the game.
It had been a great game, well played and hard fought and both sides deserve credit for the show the spectators had witnessed.
Leek's players will be very disappointed not to have won, let alone not to have even taken a losing bonus point, but that is sometimes the way it is. Next game is Shrewsbury at home this week and with both the Shropshire side and Moseley Oak, the bottom 2 sides winning at the weekend, Leek will know they will have to play at their best to compete.
Leek lost a place in the league as Dixonians beat Bridgnorth as Stoke's perfect season continued with a demolition of Tamworth.
Kick off this Saturday at F Ball Park is 2.15pm for the visit of Shrewsbury and after the game, a live Heineken Cup match will be shown on the big screen
Author John McDermott