Thick fog and near freezing temperatures are not usually conducive to a good game of rugby, but on a day when the conditions made ball handling difficult, both sides managed to produce a close fought, entertaining match for the large crowd of supporters.
Spalding got off to a good start when after gathering the kick off, the ball was passed out to Mark Hendy
who broke through the defence and passed to Corey Lewis
who continued the move, only to be tackled into touch just inside the Sleaford 22. Sleaford won the lineout but a poor relieving kick was gathered on halfway by Jordan Searle
who set off on a looping run, outflanking the defence to score a try wide out which was unconverted.
The game then settled into a pattern where the Spalding forwards began to dominate at set piece, however, superior technique at ruck and maul by Sleaford prevented the home side from turning their opportunities into points. The Spalding back line always looked threatening in attack, and their defence was outstanding. As the half progressed, Spalding managed to make several visits into the Sleaford 22, only to be thwarted by handling errors or lost possession at the ruck. On one occasion, Mark Hendy
pounced for an interception and raced clear only for play to be called back for an off-side offence at the scrum. Another attack saw Luke Jones
pick up a loose ball on the Sleaford 22 and make a determined drive for the line, only to be tackled just short and Sleaford were able to clear the ball to touch for half time at Spalding 5 pts; : Sleaford nil pts.
From the restart, Spalding secured an attacking position just outside the Sleaford 22. After a series of scrums and mauls, Corey Lewis
emerged from a maul with the ball and passed on to Oliver Johnson
who sent J J Faulkner in for a try which Oliver Johnson
The kick off was then fumbled by Spalding and Sleaford managed to cause confusion in the Spalding defence which resulted in Mason Coulam forcing his way over for a Sleaford try which was converted.
With only five points between the teams, Sleaford began to put together some strong forward drives, their possession from the ruck enabling them to maintain pressure. However, the Spalding defence stood firm and Sleaford were not able to get into a try scoring position. Spalding also produced some good forward moves, in one, Luke Jones
and Alex Worth
combined to set Corey Lewis
clear, he kicked ahead and was unlucky not to get the touchdown.
Spalding continued to press, and again a relieving kick was taken by Jordan Searle
on halfway, who produced another curling run and with change of pace and clever use of Corey Lewis
as a decoy, ghosted his way to his second try, which was the highpoint of the game. Oliver Johnson
With the game drawing to a close, Spalding continued to pressurise the Sleaford defence, when a kick from Oliver Johnson
was picked up by Will Brewer near his own line, he set off down the wing toward the Spalding try line only to be superbly tackled just short by Corey Lewis
. However, the ball was then moved across field and Sam Bell went over for a Sleaford try. The missed conversion brought the game to a close.
J J Faulkner x 1