NORTHWICH lost their 100% re-cord but edged a little closer to the South Lancs and Cheshire League title at Moss Farm on Saturday.
They remain unbeaten, though that too was threatened by their only championship rivals and a below-par Northwich regard the point as one gained rather than one lost.
Leigh were fired up and at full strength; Northwich were subdued by the stresses of their amazing season so far.
The visitors had the best of the first quarter and forced Northwich to give away a succession of penalties.
For the first time this season North-wich looked panicky and after 10 minutes two careless back passes allowed Leigh winger Tony Bentham to pounce on a loose ball and score an opportunistic try, which Stuart Fisher conver ted.
Northwich responded well and gradually forced their way back into the game.
They dominated the driving mauls and just before half-time forced a scrum 10 metres from the Leigh line. Northwich heaved forward and Graham Robinson cleverly flicked a blind side pass for Gaz Davies to score near the posts. Gary Bell converted to make it all square at the break.
In the second half Chris James and Peter Pattenden were brought off the bench to join Vuyol Pasiya who had replaced hooker Jed Hill on the half hour mark.
Northwich were in control at this stage but each time they threatened they invariably gave away a penalty allowing Leigh to stay in contention. The Northwich pressure did produce two Gary Bell penalties but 13-7 was not enough to knock the stuffing out of Leigh and two Fisher penalties for holding on and playing the ball on the floor produced a frantic last five minutes during which the jaded-looking home team did well to hold out for a draw.
Coach Mike Penny was disappointed with his squad's penalty count and reminded them he will not tolerate back-chatting to the referee.
Northwich 2nds won at Crewe & Nantwich 12-11 (Mike Gallimore, John Adams tries; Brett Stanley con) and are now second.
Ian Flynn, 42, scored a hat-trick for Northwich 3rds in their 36-5 victory over Sandbach. Further tries came from Jason Carter, Toby Kineally and Barry McNulty, Baker kicking three conversions.
Northwich 1st are at Hoylake on Saturday.
* Former Winnington Park player Duncan Steele is an international.
He represented England against France in a students' international at outside centre on Friday.
Steele, who attended Sir John Deane's College, came through the junior ranks at Burrows Hill and won a national place-kicking competition at Twickenham before a full England g ame.
He helped his country to a 19-10 victory over the French.
Winnington are at Aspatria on Saturday.
Park's Under-10s won two games against Bowdon on Sunday, 6-0 (Milne 3, Slivic, Cann, Pymm) and 4-3 (Eastwood 2, Baldwin, Bowden).