With Spartans going into the match aware that relegation was still a possibility for them, it was unsurprising that they took the game to Aston from the first minute, and eventually ran out worthy winners.
With other results in the league favouring Spartans, the bonus point victory was largely irrelevant, although this should not detract from the home side producing their best performance of the season.
Aston were yet again disrupted prior to kick-off and went into the game with just 2 replacements. Ross Midgely's unavailability meant a starting position for Dan Lastun, who has impressed with his performances since breaking into the 1st XV squad in recent weeks.
Spartans opted to play into the wind and up the slope in the first period, and quickly showed their intentions by launching a series of rolling mauls that Aston had difficulty defending. After 11 minutes, a 10 yard scrum was turned into another maul, from which the No 8 eventually crashed over the line for the opening score of the game. With the conversion falling short, Spartans opened up a 5-0 lead.
Spartans almost repeated the feat 10 miinues later, but some solid defence by Aston held them up over the line and Aston were able to clear from the next phase of play.
Some over exuberence cost the Spartans centre a yellow card on 27 minutes, but instead of Aston taking advantage of the numerical mismatch, it was Spartans who capitilsed. Aston missed touch with a clearance kick, and Spartans ran the ball back from their own 22 moving from the left touchline to the right to create space for the scrum half to finaly sprint in at the corner for a fine try.
Aston reduced the defecit to 10-3 on 33 minutes with a well struck penalty from 35 yards by Tom McNamee
. Both McNamee and Matt O'Hare
looked dangerous every time they were in possession, but Aston were unable to get sufficient ball to them in space, and generally unable to take advantage of the conditions as Spartans held the upperhand in the tight.
The second period saw Adam Baldock
replace Lastun, and Aston re-shuffled their pack. An impressive mark was called by McNamee who took a high kick in full flight whilst colliding with O'Hare, and after some attention from the medics was able to clear 45 metres.
Spartans were issued with a second yellow card after a brief flare-up on 15 minutes, but again Aston were unable to make any significant advantage of the extra man. Back up to a full complement, Spartans forced a 5 yard scrum, and the scrum half was able to wriggle over having been given a good platform by his front five. The conversion stretched the lead to 17-3.
Aston raised their game, and started to make some breaks, with Michael Tate
and Matt O'Hare
particularly noticeable. One break by Tate included a dummy and a 20 yard charge, but in the subsequent tackle, Tate went down injured, with what was later diagnosed as a broken arm, and had to be replaced by John Gadd.
Spartans scored again with a try in the right corner following quick hands and good support play, but Aston had the final word when Adam Baldock
was on the end of a good move to crash over in the left corner following a series of drives in the Spartans 22.