Spalding 24 vs 12 Sileby Vikings
Sileby Vikings first trip to Spalding was not devoid of talking points to say the least. Sadly many of them will not result in lengthy passages describing athletic prowess, honed skills and fair play. Instead they are of a much more unsavoury nature. To say that the fixture had a sour ending would be an understatement; but before then there is preparation for and a match to outline.
Sileby entered the fixture having already fought a fierce battle during the week; a battle for availability. With the coaches little black book of backs highly depleted the collective and first team captain had to duck, dive, weave and haggle to ensure that the positions of 9-15 were filled. Well done chaps. The second battle before kick-off was with the roads. Some travelling from Sileby were met with traffic and let’s say unfortunate set of directions from the sat nav, meaning that the last cohort of players arrived with less than 30 minutes before kick-off (despite it graciously being delayed by 10 minutes). A further thanks to the opposition for lending Sileby a spare ball to aid the warm up. Not ideal preparation. The Vikings were pleased to welcome back Hooker Ped Seville to the starting line-up after injury and impressive run outs with the 2s.
The first quarter of the match was a stalemate. Both sides’ defences largely remained dominant throughout, the only gains mostly being made through ill-discipline. Sileby in particular felt the sting of the referee’s whistle, with a number of penalties conceded for holding on and offside. The physicality in defence was much improved from previous weeks throughout the first 20 as the Vikings absorbed a lot of pressure from the home side. In attack Sileby were finding some joy in the outside channels, with incoming winger Lee Robinson proving a threat whenever on the ball. During this period Spalding lost a back rower to a nasty injury, to whom we wish a speedy recovery.
Eventually however the pressure told. It became insurmountable on about the 30 minute mark, with Spalding starting to make some ground through strong carries close to the ruck. Crossing the white wash was by no means an indictment of the Sileby effort. On the contrary the energy expended by the opposition in scoring the first try was a testament to the ferocity and accuracy that characterised the Vikings determination to keep Spalding out. This was coupled with a strong scrum led by the front row of Captain Gareth Love, Ped Seville and Mark Walker and a more assured line out, hallmarks of a much more consistent performance than in previous weeks. An excellent conversion took the score to 7-0. By the end of the half the deficit had been doubled. Buoyed by their first score Spalding began to make more significant inroads through the Sileby defensive line, gaining valuable field position. With a penalty advantage the home side kicked through, with their centre collecting and touching down. An excellent piece of play was marred by a second injury, with both team’s physio and even fans ensuring that the player was ok. At half time the score read 14-0.
Sileby began the second half well, gaining territory through some excellent inroads through the midfield and out wide. The Vikings were beginning to target the weak shoulders in the opposition’s line, with excellent carries from Ben Smith, Jamie Robson and Ash Rideout in particular causing problems. However Sileby couldn’t make this territory and possession count. Before he could blink the usually composed Player-Coach Rich Rees was swallowed up by an opposition player (a whiff of outside was in the air), causing the ball to be spilled. From the resulting turnover Spalding made excellent ground up the pitch, only excellent covering tackles from Rob Griffiths and Callum Spencer preventing an immediate score. However this was only a speed bump rather than a definitive stop, as an opposition substitute broke through a couple of tackles to find clear turf ahead of him to score. With a conversion missed the score was 19-0. Things went from bad to worse for the Vikings as a chip and chase from a midfield scrum resulted in a further score, the four try bonus, and a 24-0 lead for the home team.
Throughout the match there was, without a doubt, some niggle between the sides. This is part and parcel of any game of rugby. Nevertheless the referee had warned both sides not to let this spill over into anything too unsavoury. The Vikings were the first to understand what the repercussions of not heeding this warning were. Having been hit late and with no arms Fly Half Jamie Muggo briefly articulated his annoyance, resulting in the referee brandishing a yellow card. The rest of the team channelled their frustrations at this debatable call through more precise play, with the early threat of the first half replicated and built upon. Excellent carries brought the Vikings to the opposition 22, with Luke Currie unlocking space with some excellent passes. Two trips to the red zone saw scores for wing Rob Griffiths and prop Mark Walker.
With Sileby gaining momentum there were hopes that at least a losing bonus points could be secured in the final minutes. However a brawl broke out in the middle of the pitch that would ultimately end the fixture. Though both teams were culpable for participating, it was a Spalding player that was singled out by the referee for taking things too far, a red card administered. This unsavoury incident was further marred by an altercation between the departing player and a member of the Sileby squad, understandably upset by what had just occurred. This marred what was setting up to be a grand finish, a resurgent Sileby looking to secure a losing bonus point, or perhaps more. Sileby’s thanks go out to the members of the Spalding club whom remained behind with the player injured during the brawl whilst waiting for the emergency services, and those that helped in his safe transfer from the ground, to club house to ambulance. Throughout the game the team’s physios and coaches had worked together to help injured players; this is the spirit that should exemplify the game, something that we look forward to replicating in the return fixture in the New Year.
The first XV next entertain Ashby at Platts Lane during the last weekend of the month. This promises to be a stern test, with training as a squad paramount in the build-up.