Spalding storm into the Final.
Spalding started this second leg with a 22 point advantage, and from the kick off showed that they were determined not to let it slip. Having kicked off, they immediately pressurised Sleaford into a number of handling errors and forced a line out on the Sleaford 22. The ball was taken by Will Fletcher and after an excellent forward drive it was fed out for J. J. Faulkner to gain useful ground and set up a ruck from which Alex Worth stormed over for a try which was converted by Oliver Johnson.
Spalding enjoyed early line out dominance with both Will Fletcher and Luke Jones winning good ball, from one such line out the ball was moved along the line only for a long pass to Hal Whyatt to miss the mark and roll into touch. From the resulting line out a ruck formed from which Corey Lewis broke clear and scored a try which went unconverted.
From the resumption Sleaford mounted a concerted period of pressure inside the Spalding 22, however, a number of efforts were thwarted by the Spalding defence until a long clearing kick from Oliver Johnson which was brilliantly followed up by Jordan Searle, relieved the pressure. Sleaford tried again to exert pressure on the Spalding defence but it held firm up to half time, with the score Sleaford Nil : Spalding 12 pts.
Spalding made a number of changes at half time, but started the second half very much on the offensive; however, they suffered bouts of over enthusiasm which resulted in a number of penalties which allowed Sleaford some respite. One particular effort saw Corey Lewis break through a number of tackles only to be stopped just short of the line and penalised for not releasing the ball. However, Spalding were not to be denied and good approach work from Mark Hendy and Tom Birdseye, (who had worked tirelessly to disrupt and secure possession at the breakdowns), resulted in a penalty to Spalding 5 metres out from which Alex Worth crashed over for an unconverted try.
With the game in the bag, there were more personnel changes, including a well earned rest for Tom Birdseye. Sleaford now saw an opportunity to put some respectability on the scoreboard, and a scrum on the Spalding 22 resulted in their No8 breaking clear for an unconverted try.
Sleaford now found new energy but good rucking work from J. J. Faulkner and Luke Jones prevented them is securing worthwhile possession. There was also good defensive work done by Jordan Wakefield. From one ruck, where the ball was won by Luke Jones, Mark Hendy made a determined run but was stopped just short of the 22. From the scrum the Sleaford Full Back found open space and raced the length of the field with Luke Jones in close pursuit. The try was converted, reducing the deficit to 5 points.
The game was now drawing to a close but Spalding were not satisfied to rest on their laurels and forced a scrum on the Sleaford 22, there followed good work from Oliver Johnson, Harry Wilkinson-Roberts and Fraser Leiper which resulted in a penalty 5 metres out from which (Man of the Match) Alex Worth twinkle toed his way over for an unconverted try.(Sarah words not mine)
The match ended soon after with the score Sleaford 12pts : Spalding 22 pts, and the aggregate score, Sleaford 17 pts : Spalding 49 pts.
For the second year running, this team have reached the NLD Final, and we all look forward to Glossop on 29th April.
11 Hal Whyatt
12 JJ Faulkner
13 Mark Hendy
14 John McManus
16 Jordan Wakefield for 14 second half
17 Harry Wilkinson-Roberts for 5 second half
18 Jordan Lakey for 3 second half
20 Edward King for 9 second half
21 Oliver Rees for 11 second half
22 Tom Rollinson for 2 second half