Final Score doesn't Reflect Spalding's Performance against League Leaders
With only a couple of points in it at half time Spalding gave a very creditable performance away at league leaders Notts Casuals
This trip to unbeaten league leaders Notts Casuals was always going to be a challenge but at half time Spalding had them worried taking an early with a penalty kick and only conceding a push over try when reduced to 14 players with five minutes of the half remaining.
There were several changes to last week’s team who had taken Mansfield to the cleaners. Last year’s captain Richard Cooke started at openside flanker, with Kev Hudson back at lock. Making his debut in the forwards was Edward Williams who had come up through the Juniors and playing senior rugby last season for the Nomads. Also making a return to Spalding from Sleaford was Dan Cooper in at centre alongside Tom Wilson.
In good conditions, Casuals started brightly but soon found that Spalding were well organised, closing space down and tackling strongly. The referee was quick to spot infringements with both sides being caught not releasing the ball quickly enough when tackled. In the forwards Richard Cooke was relishing being back in the team and his tackle count for the game would be outstanding with Harry Sharman not far behind.
After eight minutes Spalding mounted some pressure deep in Casuals territory, who infringed at the breakdown and Willis Ingleby stepped up to convert the penalty lick for a three point lead. Casuals responded by starting to spread the ball out along their backs and both wingers Gav Sharman and Ben Shields were tested out on the wings for pace but good covering tackles nullified any threats. Also both centres Dan Cooper and Tom Wilson were closing space down effectively and tackling well.
By now the forwards were constantly challenging each other and with the scrums going with the put in to Spalding through Harry Sharman were driving forward from the base of the scrums. But Casuals were building momentum deep inside Spalding’s twenty two. The penalty count started to mount and finally Ash Piccaver took a team yellow card for off side at the ruck.
The resulting scrum was on the 5 metre line. With a man advantage they drove forward for a push over try but Spalding were able to see out the remaining period before the half time whistle. With only a two point margin Spalding had shocked Casuals with their determination and their well structured defence.
On the resumption Casuals started to play with more freedom, offloading to support players and their tricky fullback started to dance through gaps created. But Casuals were caught tackling a Spalding player off the ball and the yellow card was shown. However this was followed fairly swiftly with Sharman also being yellow carded for a late tackle and with the offence being near the try line Casuals capitalised and the scrum drove forward for a push over try duly converted.
The home team were now playing their running rugby confidence finding room and support players. Finally they created a gap in Spalding’s defence for their third try
Spalding dug deep and battled through. Substitute Chris Davies came on at fullback with Conall Mason moving to fly half and Ingleby to flanker. However with the last play Casuals had a 5 metre scrum. Their scrum half capitalised on a blind side move for their bonus point try.
This was a spirited performance against the top team in the league and with the two debutants settling in well, coach George Reid with have some challenges for next week’s team selection.
Team Jacob Greaves, John Barrett, Josh Caley, Ash Piccaver, Kev Hudson, Edward Williams, Richard Cooke, Harry Sharman, Will Shields, Willis Ingleby, Gav Sharman, Dan Cooper, Tom Wilson, Ben Shields, Conall Mason, Sub Chris Davies