OLD Halesonians Rugby Club climbed top of Midlands One West with a 32-8 win at Stoke.
The visitors grabbed the initiative early on with some driving forward play and took the lead on 11 minutes when full-back Chris Hooper scored in the corner.
Continued pressure saw Hooper slot over a penalty to increase the lead before Loz Breeze got Hales’ second try of the game.
Another Hooper penalty made it 18-3 at the break.
Stoke refused to buckle under the pressure and dominated the opening stages of the second-half, pulling a try back through Pete Wilshaw.
But the visitors stepped things up again with some brilliant defensive play that has been their trademark all season.
A loose maul on the home 22 gave wing Luke Smith a chance to sneak the ball at the base to sprint through the defence for his 30th try of the season, which was converted by Hooper.
With seven minutes to go Hales grabbed what could be a vital bonus point with their fourth try.
Continued scrummages in the home 22 saw the Stoke pack driven back and unable to cope, with the referee eventually awarding a penalty try after the home side collapsed the scrum. The win moved Old Hales four points clear of Worcester.
Next up is the visit of third-placed Lichfield to Wassell Grove this Saturday.
Meanwhile, Stourbridge won the inaugural Luke Chapman Memorial Tournament, defeating Bromsgrove 31-0 in the final.
Six teams from across the Midlands played in the competition at Wassell Grove, which was held in memory of the former Old Hales youth player, whose death last year at the age of 16 was caused by Sudden Adult Death Syndrome.
Old Hales won the Shield by beating Old Coventrians 29-5, while Dudley Kingswinford took the Plate thanks to a 10-0 win over South Worcester Barbarians. More than £1,000 was raised for the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young.