ESSEX Leopards were seen off 74-63 at unbeaten league leaders Reading Rockets on Sunday.

The game was one of only five out of the scheduled 52 men’s league encounters to take place at the weekend, with Leopards making the longest trip of any of the visiting teams.

However, their efforts were not rewarded with a win as Rockets finished strongly to secure a 13th successive triumph.

But Leopards general manager Dave Ryan insisted the Big Cats did not regret making the difficult journey in the snow.

“We did the right thing by playing the game, despite the result,” said Ryan.

“If we’d been away to one of the north east clubs or in Yorkshire, it would have been different, but I couldn’t believe some of the games were postponed this weekend.

“It’s an indoor sport!”

A tight first half saw little between the teams, but it was Rockets’ Danny Carter who converted a three-point play with the last score of the half to give his side the biggest lead of the game at 31-26 going into the locker room.

Greg Hernandez’s score on the break after a Rowell Graham block saw the Reading lead cut to 46-44 at the final break, but Leopards noticeably tired in the fourth period as the home side closed out the win.

Hernandez led the Leopards with 20 points, eight rebounds and three steals.

And Graham showed that he really is back to his best after missing much of the season with a broken wrist, finishing with 15 points, four rebounds and three blocks in just 16 minutes of action.

Simon Cummings added 12 points, five steals and four rebounds.

Leopards will now be looking to get their Division One campaign back on track when they travel to Brixton Topcats on Saturday evening.