ONLY a third league defeat of the campaign and a season-ending injury for second row Josh Hill made it a pretty miserable weekend for Ludlow RFC.

Mikey Jones’ men did at least pick up two bonus points from their 31-26 defeat at Leek but the loss has cut Ludlow’s advantage at the top of Midlands Two West North to six points.

Ludlow now have a week off but the defeat places extra importance on their next game when they welcome third-placed Wolverhampton to The Linney on March 2.

They began well at Leek with a well taken try from winger Tom Amphlett who had almost reached the line a few seconds earlier but was hauled down. Will Sparrow converted.

But just as Ludlow were threatening again the Leek winger turned the tables, pouncing on a wayward kick and running the length of the field to tie the scores.

Ludlow profited in a similar fashion from the next Leek attack with full-back Joe Doyle holding on to a kick from point-blank range into his stomach before sprinting clear.

But Leek crossed twice from a pair of well-drilled rolling mauls as the hosts established a 19-14 interval lead.

Amphlett almost created a try for Will Hodnett, only to be adjudged to have knocked on, but from the scrum Ludlow won the ball back and shifted it quickly for Sparrow to score in the corner.

In a key spell, though, Leek established a cushion with a pushover try and then a penalty try.

Ludlow – who lost Hill to a dislocated shoulder, ending his season – were relying on scraps but Jim Alderson seized on a loose ball and made good yards.

The ball was recycled and Doyle drove it to within a few metres before the ball was swung wide for Sparrow to touch down in the corner.

Leek had their winger red-carded and, with seconds left, Ludlow looked as though they might take advantage of the extra man to level the scores and perhaps snatch victory but a lofted pass to Alderson went high and wide into touch.

There was better news for Ludlow seconds who won 20-7 at home to Spartans with a brace from Dan Ruell and tries from Ben Black and Cody Hall. Tom Burgoyne was their man of the match.