A FOURTH consecutive home victory on Saturday moved Leek up to fourth in Midlands Two West (North).
Second-half tries from Tom Simms and Adam Nettel sealed the 16-12 win as Leek took full advantage of the extra man after Spartans had their blind-side flanker sin-binned for two offences in quick succession.
A pattern to the game developed over the opening five minutes with Leek's Naz Narawa and then Ad Smith making strong open runs while the Spartans pack proved stronger in the scrum and maul.
On eight minutes a Spartans clearance kick found Dan Smith on his own 10-metre line. The adventurous full-back soon moved into top gear as he swerved and sprinted through a surprised opposition to close in on the line. Only the Spartans full-back could prevent a score - and with Gary McDermott on his shoulder a simple pass would have led to a try. But Smith opted to go it alone and was held up over the line, giving Leek a five-metre scrum from which Spartans won possession against the head. Two minutes later a penalty for not releasing in the tackle allowed Sam Hunt to kick the Moorlanders into a 3-0 lead.
On 14 minutes Nick Palmer was tackled into touch five metres short of the Spartans line as the hosts continued to make the running. Naz Narawa then burst into the Spartans 22 to set up a dangerous position but was penalised for holding on.
The game passed the hour mark before Lek's next opportunity. Dan Needham won a penalty after a good break from the base of the scrum and Spartans were penalised for not releasing. And Hunt doubled Leek's lead with a well struck penalty.
Spartans got into the game in an attacking sense on 36 minutes following a line-out in the Leek 22. The forwards then set up a series of rucks near the right corner before Leek were penalised for offside. Spartans opted for the scrum and won a penalty for a front row infringement. The visitors again chose the scrum and this time the powerful Spartans pack drove the hosts over their own line for a converted try and a 7-6 lead for the visitors.
In the second period Leek had an immediate chance to retake the lead. The home side won the kick off and set up a series of rucks to move within 10 metres of the Spartans line. But Hunt's attempt flew wide.
On 50 minutes another Leek penalty arrived for off-side. Skipper Tom Hine elected to go for the line-out and Hunt's excellent kick put the hosts eight metres form the Spartans line. The catch and drive earned another penalty and also saw the Spartans number six sin-binned following two offences in quick succession.
Leek again opted for the line-out again. Andy McFadden's catch was slightly knocked back but the alert Drew took the ball on and drove hard into the defence. He almost made the line and when the ball came back Sims was on hand to pick up and crash over for Leek's opening try. Hunt's conversion attempt failed but Leek had retaken the lead at 11-7.
Jack Taylor came on for Smith and Tom Bourne was introduced in place of Jason Milner before Leek pressed forward again on 63 minutes. Another series of rucks moved the hosts to within five metres. Nettel called for a quick tap and Dan Needham obliged before sending the ball to the alert flanker who dived through a tackle to score Leek's second try which also went unconverted.
A dropped ball denied Leek further joy before Spartans threatened with a scrum 15 metres out on 70 minutes. The first drive shunted the hosts back another 10 metres before the Leek pack was penalised for not pushing straight. From the reset scrum the powerful Spartans drove over for their number eight to score his second try.
The missed conversion kept the score-line at 16-12 in Leek's favour ahead of a nervy final eight minutes. Spartans tried to pin Leek in their 22 but a heft kick from Smith on 76 bounced into touch only 15 metres from the away side's line. The last four minutes were played out in midfield as Leek comfortably held out for the win.