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80 point Intermediate Cup thriller

Market Harborough 1st xv 41 v Spalding RFC 1st xv 39

Last Updated: Sep 29, 2013 08:38pm
Spalding St. John's, South Holland
By Geoff Nichols
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Spalding travelled to Market Harbour for their first round match in the RFU Intermediate Cup and it proved to be a thrilling game in which 80 points were scored in the 80 minutes with only two points separating the two teams when the final whistle blew.    

The game had gone in favour of one side and then the other with Spalding on top at the half time whistle with the closest of scores 21 – 20. Spalding kicked off into a strong breeze against them and it was not long before Spalding were making progress.   A chip a head by skipper Harry Sharman put pressure on the home side’s defence but the ball was grounded by the Harborough defence.     Spalding were awarded a penalty but were stopped illegally and another penalty followed for the opposition being offside.    A quick tap penalty was taken by fly half James West who crashed over to open the score. West also converted the try to add a further two points.     After ten minutes Spalding had the led 0 – 7.     A quick response by the Harborough three-quarters resulted in their first try wide out on the left hand side of the pitch.    The conversion missed and the score was 5 – 7.    Second row forward Tom Duerden made a number of drives up field but the visitors were unable to capitalise.     Ryan Chappell picked up a wrist injury and was replaced by Andy Lal in the centre.    Harborough had a lineout near the Spalding try line and drove for the line and scored but the conversion went wide.  The score moved to 15 – 7.  Spalding’s scrum was coming under pressure at most set pieces but the visitors have adapted to deal with these circumstances on many previous occasions.    West found touch with a kick to within 15 metres of their opponents try line.     Spalding won the ball and it went along the line before coming back inside to Harry Brown, he was stopped 5 metres short of the line. Spalding won the scrum and Josh Finch broke clear to touch down under the posts.   West added the conversion and both teams were back to within one point of each other at 15 – 14.   With five minutes of the half left Harborough were awarded a scrum near the Spalding line.   They drove forward and the scrum collapsed.    The referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty try.   But the conversion attempt did not add the points and the score was now 20 – 14 with four minutes of the half remaining.      Harry Sharman broke clear and chipped ahead into the Harborough 22 metre area. The ball was secured by the Spalding forwards and again it went wide for replacement Lal to use his speed and score.     West added the conversion to take his side into the lead at 20 – 21 when the half time whistle sounded.       With their noses just ahead of the home side Spalding expected that the advantage of the breeze would help them in their cause.     But only three minutes of the second half had passed before Harborough had re-taken the lead.  Spalding missed a clearance to touch and the home side attacked with their forwards crossing for a try which was converted to make the score 27 -21.   With five minutes of the second half having passed Spalding received a penalty and West was again on target taking the score to 27 – 24.    Spalding started to use the wind advantage and kick deep into the homes side’s half.    The Spalding three-quarters  received the ball and went wide. They were stopped and the ball came back inside where the home defence was ruled to be off side.

West converted the penalty to the make the scores even at 27 – 27 with 50 minutes of the match having elapsed.       Spalding were completely in control after one of the Harborough forwards received a yellow card.        They were camped in the home-sides 22 metre area but a final pass went a drift and the Harborough forwards gathered the loose ball and ran the length of the pitch to score under the post, the conversion was a formality.   The home-side had taken the lead at 34 – 27 and twenty minutes of the match left.      However this ever changing score line was to continue.   Harry Sharman led his side well and drove for the line setting a fine example.   He was over the Harborough try line to register the next try and West added the points to make it 34 – 34 and there was still 20 minutes left to play.      The pattern did not change.   It was Harborough, now back to fill strength,   that broke to the far left corner and crossed for a try leaving a difficult kick against the wind, but the kicker made no mistake and gave the lead back to the home side.    Now with less than 10 minutes of the match left, it was Spalding’s turn to score.     They made use of the wind to their advantage by taking play deep into the home-side’s 22 metre area.   They won the ball and drew the defence before passing out to winger Hugh Sharman to score wide out.   Desperately the kick went the wrong side of the post.       But at 41 – 39 the remaining few minutes were played out without either side being able to score again before the referee blew his whistle for full time after an enthralling match.

Spalding RFC:   Harry Sharman (captain), Sam Cooks, Jacob Harwood, Pete Waudby, Tom Duerden, Tim Waltham, Josh Finch, Harry Brown, Rob Lucas, James West, Mattie Newman, George Brown, Ryan Chappell, Hugh Sharman, John Charlton, Alex Ioannou, Luke Scotney, Andy Lal. 

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