Spalding travelled to Oakham, buoyed up by last week’s excellent Cup performance against Buxton, but the home team, second in the league, were lying in wait. Again, Spalding were fielding a settled side, the only changes being Miguel Sa Silva in for Ash Anker, Charlie Johnson at outside centre and Gav Sharman back on the left wing.
Within the first few minutes, you could see that Oakham were a well drilled team as they immediately had Spalding on the back foot, who resorted to a kick to touch from within their twenty two to clear danger. Oakham won their lineout and within a flash the ball was in the hands of their fly half, Calum Crellin. A planned move saw both their left wing and full back coming into the attack, creating a clear over lap and outside centre Johno Milnes took advantage of a big hole in Spalding’s defence and with a successful kick Oakham were seven points up.
On the ten minute mark, Oakham kicked to touch from a penalty conceded. The lineout was on Spalding’s five metre line, the home team established a driving maul, which drove over the try line for Oakham’s second try.
Spalding were not “at the races”, losing possession in contact, second best to the breakdown and struggling to contain Oakham, who were now well on top. To cap it all, Spalding seemed to be falling foul of the referee and some of his decisions, as illustrated by Ash Piccaver penalized for kicking the ball when it had clear left the ruck. Next Ryan Chappell was yellow carded for not releasing in the tackle and from the scrum, with their man advantage, Oakham were able to score out wide on the right wing.
With half time approaching Oakham’s flanker deliberately knocked on and was yellow carded, giving a scoring opportunity before half time for Spalding, but Ingleby’s kick failed to find touch.
Spalding took the opportunity to regroup at the break and looked to implement their game plan rather than being dictated to by Oakham’s.
Soon after the restart Harry Cole took a stinger to his shoulder and was replaced off the bench by his younger brother, Will
Spalding had stepped up their efforts, with the forwards, Luke Turner, Jacob Greaves and Piccaver making big carries into Oakham’s defence, but the home team hit back as they applied pressure in the scrum and Spalding’s front row popped up.
An Oakham big kick to touch, lineout possession won and their fly half was again orchestrating another backs move to score down the left wing. However all the Spalding players, were convinced the Oakham scorer was a metre short and had lost control of the ball
Spalding were now having the majority of territory and possession as the kept battling back. But Oakham’s defence was rock solid, as the defended in depth as one team, within their 5 metre line. Captain Dan Adams crashed the ball up several times, but the gaps were not opening up.
A tactical switch saw Conall Mason up at fly half, Ingleby to outside centre and Charlie Johnson to full back. Also Will Shields replaced Ben Shields at scrum half, returning from many weeks out with an injury and in the final few minutes Macaulay Crane was on for Da Silva
Finally after a series of pick and dives by Spalding, with valiant defence on the line by Oakham, Harry Sharman finally was able to touch down seconds before the final whistle.
In the second half Spalding could have been overrun by Oakham who had strengths in the forwards and the backs, but Spalding’s determination to get on the score board showed their team spirit. However what killed Spalding was the number of penalties conceded which drirectly resulted in Oakham racking up twenty two of their points.
Team- Jacob Greaves, John Barrett, Luke Turner, Ash Piccaver, Miguel Da Silva, Harry Cole, Ryan Chappell, Harry Sharman, Ben Shields, Willis Ingleby, Gav Sharman, Dan Adams, Charlie Johnson, Ed Booth, Conall Mason Subs Will shields, Will Cole, Macauley Crane