Tough Afternoon against Strong Second Placed Team
Against the team lying clear second in the league and who have secured promotion, it was always going to be a difficult day to come away with a result against Ashby
With two matches remain Spalding need just one bonus point win to avoid any threat of relegation, but Saturday’s trip to second in the league, Ashby, was always going to be a big challenge.
However a surprise appearance by past Captain Peter Shakespeare in the back row boosted the visitor’s squad, together with another past captain Sam Cooke featuring on the bench and with youngster Conall Mason coming in at fullback there was a good mixture of experience and youth. As Ashby took to the field they had three players in their pack well over 6ft and the first few phases of play soon showed that they were a well drilled outfit but Spalding were up for the challenge with the defence looking well organised.
However, with 8 minutes on the clock the home team had a scrum out wide. With the ball secured their number eight went blind and feed the right winger who cut back inside to score a converted try Before the match it had been touch and go whether the game would be on and the boggy pitch conditions started to have an effect with mistakes and knock on occurring.
Spalding were containing the home team with disciplined teamwork and excellent tackling and with their first main foray deep into the opposition territory a penalty was won and converted by Willis Ingleby. Meanwhile Ash Piccaver and Jason Steels we battling with some success at the lineout thanks to the effecting throwing in by Tom Rollinson.
With five minutes of the first half remaining Mason was winded whilst tackling and was replaced by Sam Cooke with Gav Sharman moving to full back. Ashby then capitalised lost possession by Spalding in attack, running back the length of the field and their right winger stepping back inside to score. Lost possession a lineout caused the next score for Ashby and within a few minutes 14 points had been conceded
Different tactics by the two teams in the second half soon became apparent. Spalding were using their experienced pack of forwards to retain possession with pick and drives, whilst Ashby were looking to utilise pace out wide and it was Ashby’s right winger who was in first to score.
But Spalding’s ball retention in the forwards soon paid off as Jason Steels and John Barrett gained yardage with excellent carries and Ash Piccaver was held up just short of the try line. But the ball was recycled and prop Jacob Greaves drove over for his first try for Spalding.
Spalding were all over the place at the restart and Ashby ran in an easy try. George Brown and John Barrett were replaced off the bench by Pete Smith and Cooke, back on again, but Ashby using their scrum to good effect racked up another try .
Penalties continued to be conceded with players having difficulty at the break down stay on their feet,generally to the benefit of Spalding. Working their way up field with some good kicks to touch by Ingleby an overlap was created out wide and Liam Adams scored in the corner for his first try in the first team. However Ashby had the last score .
The scoreline reads as a heavy defeat for Spalding, but does not reflect a very tight first half with the home team taking their scoring opportunities in the second half as the game opened up. It is now all to play for, next week, at home against Belpher
Team- John Barratt, Tom Rollinson, Jacob Grieves, Kev Hudson, Ash Piccaver, Harry Cole, Peter Shakespheare, Jason Steels, Willis Ingleby, Dan Adams, Liam Adams, George Brown, George Berry, Gav Sharman, Conall Mason Subs Pete Smith, Sam Cooke