Spalding Secure Essential Win
Despite heavy rain Spalding secure win to keep them just above the relegation zone.
With heavy overnight rain Spalding ran onto the pitch at Memorial Field on Saturday against 5th in the league Rolls Royce in the knowledge that a win was essential to keep them just above the relegation battle with the likelihood that three teams will face the drop this season.
The opening minutes saw both teams familiarising themselves with the muddy conditions underfoot but Spalding were up and running directly from the kick off giving no room to Rolls Royce. This was going to be a day when determination in the tackle and ball retention within the forwards was going to count.
However Spalding had a surprise for the visitors with the return of their speedy wingers Ashton Capes and Gav Sharman and they soon illustrated the threat as Capes burst down the right wing, round the last tackler to score near the corner for an unconverted try after 5 minutes.
Encouraged by the early score Spalding started to dominated territory and the visitors started to infringe at the breakdown but two kickable penalties were missed.
Every time Spalding managed to get the ball out wide scoring opportunities were being created and Capes thought he had scored again with another excellent run and as the defence closed he kicked ahead to the dead ball area and as he and a Rolls Royce defender touch down at the same time, a try was denied as the referee awarded a drop out. Capes was again denied minutes later.
Rolls Royce started to kick for territory and with 10 minutes of the half remaining finally exerted sustained pressure with a succession of scrums as the edged their way towards the Spalding try line. Kev Hudson sustained an injury and was replaced by prop George Freeman with Jacob Greaves moving to lock.
The visitors were now encamped on the 5 metre line and with their superior scrum a try looked certain but a knock on at the base allowed Spalding to escape with a reliving kick and just before half time George Brown sustained a knock in a tackle and was replaced by Tom Wilson
Unsurprisingly the second half followed a similar pattern but this time it was left winger Gav Sharman, on his return from a hamstring injury, outpacing the Rolls Royce defence to score by the posts and with Willis Ingleby converting, a twelve point gap had been opened up within two minutes of the restart.
Jason Steels at number eight, playing behind a retreating scrum, was having a storming game, securing possession on the retreat and always getting across the gain line with his runs and setting up the next phase as he laid the ball back.
Not far behind was young Kieran Bailey in the back row as he came into his own in the second half showing his ability in the lineout and making tackle after tackle on the blind side. In fact all Spalding forwards although going backwards in the scrum putting in an immense performance around the field to deny Rolls Royce in open play. Tom Rollinson came off the bench to replace Sam Cooke at hooker.
Also high up on the tackle count was fly half Dan Adams but it was his strong running from deep inside his own half that helped seal victory. He evaded several attempted tackles as he burst from the twenty two straight down the middle of the pitch. With cover defence closing in, Adams offloaded to Sharman who was running in support and his pace took him clear and under the posts for a converted try, with only eight minutes remaining on the watch.
Rolls Royce forwards however were not going to be denied as they set up one last attack through their superior scrum and were awarded a penalty try as Spalding were being driven backwards and collapsed under pressure. Captain, Richard Cooke lead the team off the field covered from head to foot in mud, knowing that everybody had battled throughout the match and that 110 per cent had been given.
Team:- John Barrett, Sam Cooke, Jacob Greaves, Kev Hudson, Ash Piccaver, Kieran Bailey, Richard Cooke, Jason Steels, Ben Shields, Dan Adams, Gav Sharman, George Brown, Willis Ingleby, Ashton Capes, George Douglas Subs Tom Wilson, George Freeman, Tom Rollinson
Photograph curtesy of SW Photography