Good Display by Spalding against Old Rivals
Spalding overpowered Mansfield in the second half with four unanswered tries with our lineout superb all afternoon setting up a good platform for our attack.
This was a highly professional and clinical performance against third in the league Mansfield. After a hard fought first half with few scoring opportunities, four well taken second half tries by Spalding earned them a bonus point win.
With Captain Richard Cooke injured, Luke Turner due an ankle operation, Jason Steels resting his troublesome shoulder, Will Shields out with a fractured wrist and Harry Brown suspended, Ash Piccaver took over the Captaincy and was able to recall to the pack Mark Haighton at lock, Harry Sharman at number eight and Kieran Bailey at blind side flank.
In the backs Fin Peters was also out with concussion, resulting in George Douglas moving to the wing, with a welcome return for Ben Williamson at fullback and Ben Shields featuring at scrum half. Early in the first half, in typical fashion, Mansfield game plan was to retain the ball in their forwards, playing to their strengths, with pick and drives and challenging fiercely at the breakdown. Also prominent was their experienced fly half, who controlled the early play and seized the first scoring opportunity with a drop goal.
First phase play is highly important, securing the ball to set up attacking play. Mansfield’s scrum had the initial edge but steadily Spalding’s scrum improved especially in the second half. Meanwhile Spalding’s lineout was superb all afternoon, with young Kieran Bailey out jumping his opposite number at the front and Mark Haighton, turning back the years, for a dominate display. Bailey also managed to steal at least three Manfield lineout throws, with the pressure he was exerting.
As the half progressed Spalding started to secure more possession, especially through forceful running by fly half Dan Adams and outside centre George Brown, resulting in Mansfield conceding a penalty 10 metres from the try line. Quick thinking by Harry Sharman saw him take a quick tap penalty, catching Mansfield’s defence asleep and with the aid of a dummy pass, he sailed past his tacklers to score, with Ashton Capes converting. With no further scoring Spalding had a narrow half time lead of 7 points to 3.
Early in the second half Captain, Ash Piccaver led Spalding’s dominant performance, by example, with several powerful breaks. With five minutes of the second half having elapsed, he broke down the blind side, broke a couple of tackles and ran in from 20 metres for an unconverted try. Five minutes later it was the backs turn. The ball was spread wide and inside centre, Willis Ingleby, kick deep towards the corner. With two Mansfield defenders covering back Ashton Capes chased down more in hope but the ball broke free under challenge and he was over for Spalding’s third try.
George Berry came off the bench replacing George Brown in the centre and made an immediate impacted as he put in a superb tackle as Mansfield attempted to break Spalding’s stranglehold. Dan Adams was on hand to collect the ball and crash over and with Capes converting, the try bonus point had been secured.
Mansfield were now resorting to relieving kicks downfield to ease the pressure, but they had not reckoned on Spalding’s fullback, Ben Williamson. Never failing to catch the high ball, he had an open invitation to run the ball back, always beating the first tackle, if not the second, establishing many of Spalding’s counterattacks.
Left wing George Douglas capitalised as he was on hand and a kick forward followed by a chase, saw him collect the ball and run around the defence for his try. With Capes converting Spalding’s had collected four second half tries with no response. Shortly afterwards Ingleby was injured and Brown came back on the field for the last ten minutes, along with John Barrett replacing Kev Hudson, who had been rock solid all day at lock.
With the eighty minutes up, Mansfield had rarely threatened Spalding’s try line in the second half and with just a dropped goal conceded in the first half, this was an excellent afternoon for Spalding.
Team Pete Waudby, Aaron Coupe, Pete Smith, Kev Hudson, Mark Haighton, Captain Ash Piccaver, Kieran Bailey, Harry Sharman, Ben Shields, Dan Adams, George Douglas, Willis Ingleby, George Brown, Ashton Capes, Ben Williamson, Subs George Berry, John Barrett