This first round NLD Cup game against local rivals had been eagerly awaited ever since the draw was announced. Both teams played at the same level last season in Midlands Three East league. Spalding in the northern division, whilst Stamford were in the southern division.
Stamford had had an outstanding run in the league just missing out on promotion losing their last game, whilst Spalding ended third in their league with a late run. This therefore was always going to be a tough highly competitive game and so it turned out to be
Playing at the New Ground with a solid surface underfoot and a good crowd along the touch lines, Stamford started the brighter with their forwards immediately driving forward setting up a series of rucks and within 2 minutes they were over for a deserved early try. With a strong wind effecting kicking, the conversion was missed.
Stamford were having more of the territory and possession but once Spalding had the ball released to their backs, danger lurked. Fullback Connall Mason joined in a counter-attack, dummied a pass and cut back inside Stamford’s defence to score nearly under the posts. With fly half, Willis Ingleby missing the conversion, the scores were level after 7 minutes.
Steadily, Spalding started gaining the upper hand lead, by the forwards and especially the front row of Jacob Greaves, John Barrett and Luke Turner dominating their opposition. Also Spalding were carrying the ball effectively lead by Ash Anker and Ash Piccaver.
With quick ball from a ruck just inside Stamford’s half, scrum half, Will Shields passed to Ingelby who’s pop pass found Captain Dan Adams crashing through the middle. With just the fullback to beat Adams passed to winger Gav Sharman to run in unopposed for Spalding’s second try.
Both Stamford and Spalding were forced to make changes, with two of Stamford’s front row departing and Ash Piccaver with an ankle injury being replaced by Mark Haighton. With no further clear scoring opportunities the half time whistle was blown by the referee
With wind advantage Spalding were looking to drive home their advantage. But to Stamford’s credit they started to show more determination and teamwork, retaining possession in their forwards. Matters were also not helped by the number of penalties given away by Spalding, especially at the breakdown
With good kicks to touch and with a better lineout, Stamford were having the majority of possession, threating Spalding’s lead
It was Spalding’s backs who secured the win as they counterattacked down the left wing with Gav Sharman outpacing the defence and with Stamford’s remaining defender closing in, a good inside pass found the supporting runner, Connall Mason, who had a clear run in. With his successful conversion Spalding had a twelve point lead with 13 minutes remaining and looked to have sealed the match to the home team’s relief
However Stamford, with two minutes remaining snatched a deserved second try. Spalding’s restart was deep and good, giving the visitors no time or space to snatch a result.
For an opening game of the season this was an excellent, highly competitive game. However there is work to be down by Spalding, as they failed to effectively manage the second half, but Dan Adams was pleased to have won this Cup game and said “Our focus this season will be on the league, but if we have a good Cup run we will take it”
Team:- Jacob Greaves, John Barrett, Luke Turner, Jordan Templer, Ash Piccaver, Ash Anker, Ryan Chappell, Harry Sharman, Will Shields, Willis Ingleby, Gav Sharman, Dan Adams, Taylor Crowson, Ed Booth, Connall Mason Subs George Brown, Mark Haighton, Ben Shields
Next Game on Saturday, 7th September, is a friendly match travelling away to Wisbech KO 3pm. This will give Captain, Dan Adams and First Team coach, Harry Sharman, one final chance to field players who are challenging for a First Team start