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Oakham 1st XV 13 v Spalding 1st XV 18

Midlands 2 East (North)

Last Updated: Dec 1, 2013 05:43pm
Spalding St. John's, South Holland
By Geoff Nichols
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This match was billed as the top match of the season so far with Spalding at the head of the table up against the second placed club Oakham.      

A tight match from start to finish kept the enthralled crowd with good support from each clubs spectators on their edge throughout the match.   But it was not without the cost of some injuries to Spalding.    

Skipper Harry Sharman had to leave the pitch half way through the second half with a knee injury and full back Ed Booth had to leave the pitch with an ankle injury, which could make both of them doubtful for next week’s match.

Spalding kicked off into a slight wind blowing down the pitch. It was not long before Spalding had recorded their first points. Tom Duerden, returning after injury, burst through the defence and although initially stopped an Oakham defender was adjudged to come from an off side position and the visitors had a penalty.   James West sweetly struck the ball through the posts to open the scoring after only 3 minutes. But it did not take long for Oakham to open their account.   

Spalding knocked on close to their own 22 metre line, Oakham won the scrum and the ball was quickly fed out to their right wing who caught the Spalding defence out of position and scored close to the corner flag.  Their kicker converted to give the home side the lead 7 – 3 after seven minutes.  

Spalding had their opportunities in the next ten minutes but although they had possession the firm defence of Oakham held strong and it was Oakham who scored next . Oakham cleared to touch 45 metres out and Spalding knocked on in the line out that followed. Spalding were penalised and Oakham converted after twenty minutes to give them a 10 – 3 lead.     

Spalding restarted the match and another penalty followed which they kicked for touch, they won the lineout and were driving for the line but the Oakham defence held until one of their players was ruled off side.      

From only ten metres out Spalding chose to kick for goal and West made sure to take the score to 10 – 6. The remainder of the half saw both sides have their opportunities but firm defence also made it impossible to touch down for a try. On one occasion Sharman broke clear on the left and made forty metres but even with support from his own players he was bundled into touch just short of the line.    On two occasions Spalding had penalties and kicked for touch some 15 metres from their opponents line.  The Oakham defence stood firm and, were as in earlier matches, Spalding would have expected score, their only points game from an offside decision by the referee giving West the opportunity to bring the score to 10 – 9.  

As half time approached a further penalty to Oakham took the score to 13 -  9 when the whistle sounded.      

In the second half Spalding had it all to do in a match which was evenly balanced between the top two sides in the league.      Within minutes Spalding were opening up the home side’s defence and on one occasion were spreading the ball wide to include their full back Ed Booth but a crunch tackle resulted in Booth having to be replaced as he twisted his ankle.   

A penalty was Spalding’ reward and West was again on target to bring the scores within one point for both teams at 13 – 12 and 35 minutes of the half remaining.    

Oakham tried to increase the pressure but Spalding defended well before breaking from deep.    Sharman kicked for position and took play deep into the Oakham defence area but a crunch tackle on the Spalding player resulted on him having to be replaced.      Spalding were awarded a penalty and from a more difficult position the ball went across the face of the posts.      Shortly afterwards West had another opportunity and his successful conversion took his side’s points to a two point lead with some 15 minutes left to play.    

This close match was still in the balance.     

Oakham had the opportunity for a penalty but the kick missed its target. Still Spalding came back and took play into the Oakham 22 metre area. Spalding were awarded a scrum at which Oakham were penalised.   

Another penalty and West converted with two minutes left to take the score to 13 – 18.       

Oakham tried hard in the remaining time left to run the ball but in the end they were stopped by a knock on leaving the referee only to blow his whistle for full time.

 

Spalding RFC   Harry Sharman (captain) Ian Knight, Jacob Harwood, Rob Mason, Andy Hoyles, Tom Duerden,  Josh Finch, Ed Duerden, Rob Lucas, James West, Harry Harrison, Ryan Chappell, George Brown, Matty Newman, Ed Booth, Josh Caley, Ash Piccaver, Jason Steels.     

 

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