Good Draw for 1st XV against Strong Opposition
Missed kicks ... missed opportunity, Spalding played a strong game and should have won against 2nd place Belper having outscored them 2:1 in tries ...
Spalding took to the field not having played for over a month. Back on the 1st December, the home game against Tupton was declared a walkover with the opposition unable field a full team. The following week away at Ashfield, the game was called off 10 minutes before kick-off, due to adverse weather conditions.
Meanwhile, the visitors on Saturday, Belper, were full of confidence lying second in the league, with a formidable pack having dominated in their recent matches. It was no surprise therefore that they controlled much of the first half.
However it was Spalding who had an early opportunity to take the lead, with Belper offending at the breakdown, but a relatively simple penalty kick was put wide by Willis Ingelby.
Tackling and defensive duties were the order of the day with Tim Waltham and Harry Sharman leading the way in the forwards and Captain Dan Adams alongside Tom Wilson closing Belper’s backs down.
Strong running around the breakdown area, with successful offloads, was gaining territory for Belper with Spalding being forced into defending their line on several occasions. Finally at a ruck ten metres out from the posts, Spalding’s defence was non existent and the visitors ran unopposed for the opening try. With a simple conversion the seven point lead was well deserved.
The visitors also had good running backs and with plenty of possession they were starting to show their pace. Whilst tackling, Ash Ankar took a knock to his shoulder and was replaced by George Berry in the forwards.
Belper missed a penalty kick and shortly afterwards their outside centre was yellow carded. With a kick to touch and a successful lineout, Spalding drove the maul towards the line but lost possession. With a one man advantage Spalding kept pressing and finally the ball was moved out onto the left wing and Gav Sharman was over for an unconverted try. With the half time whistle there was just a two point difference between the teams.
Coach George Reid made a complete reshuffle in the scrum, handing Belper an advantage at the set piece but increased Spalding’s threat around the park with Ryan Chappell coming into the back row. Within a few minutes Jason Steels was also off the bench into the scrum with Tim Waltham taking a knock.
Spalding started to impose their game on the visitors with play being mainly in their half, but it was a tough physical battle in the forwards, which they were dominating, George Berry making some effective carries and Harry Sharman was also prominent.
When they could Spalding were looking to spread the ball wide to the wingers. Full back George Douglas was returning Belper’s kicks upfield with forceful runs and a try looked to be on with the last pass, going astray, just a yard from the line.
Belper edged further into the lead with 15 minutes left on the clock with a successful penalty.
By now the referee was starting to award penalties to Spalding with Belper disputing decisions. Scrum Half Will Shields capitalised with quick tap penalties, which started to bring rewards either gaining territory or a further penalty.
Spalding were pressing, but finding Belper’s defence impenetrable. Sharman slid a precise grubber kick through and Will Shields, following up dived over to level the scores, with the conversion to come, but again the kick was missed.
The last few minutes saw both teams going for the win but with no further score the match ended all square.
Belper, had provided one of the toughest games this season with their ball carrying forwards gaining decent territory, but Spalding’s tackling was up to the challenge. When the ball went wide Spalding were always the more dangerous side, with two tries scored and two or three excellent opportunities going begging. Again Spalding were also let down with no successful kicks, which would have made the difference
With two points for a draw, Spalding moved up to fourth in the league with a game in hand.
Team Jacob Greaves, John Barrett, Kev Hudson, Harry Cole, Jordan Templer, Ash ankar, Tim Waltham, Harry Sharman, Will Shields, Willis Ingleby, Gav Sharman, Dan Adams, Tom Wilson, Ben Shields, George Douglas Subs George Berry, Ryan Chappell, Jason Steels.
Photo courtesy of Adrian Smith (thank you).