STAFFORD 1st XV were unable to put hosts Spartans to the sword at a sun-bathed Coppice Lane ground on Saturday.
Castlefields outfit let slip first half lead on the road
SPARTANS 1st XV 35 STAFFORD 1st XV 18
The visitors flew at the opposition from the start, their forward momentum forcing early mistakes and earning a penalty.
In a clinically executed move they opted for the line out which led to a driving maul that brushed the home side defence aside.
Spartans tried to plug the gaps but Tom May celebrated his birthday weekend by carrying two defenders and the ball across the line to give Stafford an early lead with an unconverted try.
The gloss was taken off the early good work when Tom Williams was stretchered off with an injury following a crunching contest to secure the ball.
A subsequent Stafford error gifted the ball to Spartans who drew level with an unconverted try of their own.
The Stafford engine roared back into life and some ferocious work saw Rees Williams flying across the Spartans line to snatch back the lead with an unconverted try.
However the response from Spartans was immediate as they capitalised on an intercepted ball to draw the scores level.
Stafford built momentum again and some excellent play saw Matty Walklate stealing the ball from the back of the Spartans scrum and the team surged forward stretching the defence.
Dave Austin demonstrated powerful driving play as he shouldered his way through the opposition to score an unconverted try.
A Spartans penalty kick cut into the lead and another minor slip by Stafford was pounced on to take the home side into the lead with a converted try.
Stafford went into break trailing 20-15, but reflecting on how they had created three excellent tries and conceded the same from minor errors.
Spartans started the second half with urgency and an early penalty stretched their lead.
The game developed into an even affair as ownership of the ball alternated between the teams and neither looked like adding more points.
It was Spartans who broke the deadlock, capitalising on an error to score a converted try and secure the bonus point.
Stafford drove the ball back at their opponents resulting in a Walklate penalty which drew the scores marginally closer together.
But it was left to Spartans to finish the game off with an unconverted try after stealing the ball from the base of the Stafford scrum.
Stafford played some good rugby for long periods and the tries were built as a result of committed team play, but minor errors undid all of the hard work.
The Castlefields outfit will look to get back to winning ways this Saturday when receiving Staffordshire rivals Leek, with a 3pm kick-off.