Leek gave league starting debuts to Dan Bould at hooker and the improving Ed Harrison at lock with continuing injuries to Dave Ackerley and Tom Hine. With George Hunt still out, Lee Williams deservedly started at outside centre and Lucas Buxton came in on the wing for injured Adam Smith.
On a cold clear afternoon, it soon became clear that the young, fit MO side had come to Leek with some confidence that they were going to win. Leek's defence though was clinical and restricted MO's attacking capability to midfield.
Sam Hunt missed an early penalty before on 18 minutes Leek was penalised for in at the side of a ruck. The MO scrum half coolly kicked the visitors into the lead. 0-3.
Leek's pack was enjoying their scrummaging experience against the bigger MO scrum, but were in turn forced to defend the maul which MO used to good effect from one lineout on 25 minutes, moving the ball from their own 22 to Leek's before being turned over.
As the half was winding down on 39 minutes, a neat chip by McDermott moved the ball into touch on the MO 22. It gave the visitors a lineout which up until that point had looked secure. This time though, the hooker overthrew the ball and Ad Nettel, standing at the back of the line on his own, sprinted into the 22. His pass to Andy McFadden set up a quick ruck on the left side. The ball sped out and Shane Dicker drove at the heart of the defence on the burst. The ball moved to the blindside and McDermott's pass found Nick Palmer. He was able to outflank his opposite man on the wing and round for a neat try. Sam Hunt's conversion missed as the half time whistle went with Leek holding a slender 5-3 lead.
The 2nd half continued much as the first with both sides probing through midfield and with neither side making any telling phases of play in the red zone.
Leek missed a further penalty from McDermott and then MO took the lead on 55 minutes with a long range penalty from 40 metres. At 5-6, Leek needed to insert more urgency into their game and it did look for the next 10 minutes that MO's players were tiring. During this spell Leek had another couple of penalties and McDermott converted one of them to hand the lead back to Leek at 8-6 with 12 minutes to play.
Now, it was a question of not conceding a penalty within kicking range. Leek did concede and another long range attempt fell short before on 78 minutes, Leek's forwards were found guilty of not releasing in the tackle. This penalty was out on the left side near Leek's 22 but the kick went just the wrong side of the right hand upright and Leek had survived.
The final whistle went a minute later and relief for the Moorlanders was palpable.
It had been a strange game unlike any other this season, but the main point was that a win had been ground out along with good debuts for Bould and Harrison. It must not be overlooked that MO had beaten both Stafford and Tamworth on the road and had a comfortable win at home against Spartans last time out. Coincidentally, Leek's final match of the league campaign in 2011 is away at Spartans next Saturday, KO 2.15pm. They had recovered well in this week's match, getting a tough draw at Tamworth.
With Stoke comfortably accounting for 2nd placed Old Salts and Shrewsbury well beaten again, the table shows an elongated competitive group of clubs with everything to play for over the remaining 12 games of the season.
Don't forget to come along to the club on Boxing Day for the annual game between the 3rds and Veterans. Please start turning up at 10am for an 11am kick off.