Spalding 1st XV 13 - 16 Ashbourne 1st XV

Midlands 2 East (North)

Last Updated: Dec 16, 2013 08:04am
Spalding St. John's, South Holland
By Geoff Nichols
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Spalding played their final match of the first half of the season and were always aware that playing the fourth placed team in the league would not be an easy task and Spalding were league leaders every side wants to beat them.    

Such was the case this week, although a close encounter throughout the match, but eventually injuries and probably the elements were just too much for Spalding. Having lost the toss Spalding kicked off with a strong wind blowing across the pitch but in their favour.

Ashbourne soon showed their determination and from the beginning of the match kicked for position and play went into the home-side’s 22 metre area. Spalding were ruled to be off side at a lineout and the visitors kicker had a relative simple conversion to open the score for his side after only five minutes.     

It did not take many more minutes before Spalding were able to demonstrate why they were top of the league. From a touch on the half way line Spalding quickly moved the ball to the wing and forced their way to within five metres of their opponents try line.    Ashbourne cleared to the 22 metre line, Spalding won the line out and initially the ball went wide before skipper Ryan Chappell cut back inside and the ball went out to Ed Duerden who powered his way to the line and at full stretch score close to the corner.        The strong wind blew the conversion off track but after 12 minutes Spalding had the lead at 5 – 3.    

Play restarted and was mainly on either side of the centre line until the visitors had an opportunity to kick for touch in the corner.      Spalding with held the pressure until they were caught off side and the opportunity of another penalty was accepted and the successful kick took the score to 5 – 6 after 25 minutes.      

Sadly Spalding lost prop Pete Waudby with a head injury and his replacement was the universal player Ben Williams who came on to replace the injured Waudby. Spalding were soon in their opponents half and pressure again in the visitors 22 metre area lead to a drive by the forwards towards the line with Josh Finch touching down for his sides second try. Again the conversion was unsuccessful, but Spalding had regained the lead at 10 – 6 with ten minutes of the first half remaining.    

Ashbourne restarted and play was deep in the Spalding half. The home side defended well until a break in their lines resulted in the visitors centre crashing through the Spalding defence to score under the posts, leaving his kicker a simple conversion and taking the score to 10 – 13 as the half time whistle blew.     

The second half commenced and was interspersed with a number of injuries including one to Spalding replacement Williams which resulted in the remainder of the match being played with uncontested scrums.  As the injuries were taking up valuable time the darkness was becoming an additional problem as the second half was drawn out until just before 4pm.     

It was Spalding who scored next but by this time almost half of the second half had been played. Spalding broke from defence and took play into the visitors half before being awarded a penalty. James West was on target and levelled the scores at 13 – 13 with a further 20 minutes having played in the second half.     

Spalding were soon back on attack again first on the right side where Rob Lucas found a way through to get close to the line but the visitors defence stood firm.  On another occasion Spalding were making good ground on the opposite side and on at least two occasions they had an overlap but were unable to exploit the advantage to add further points.    

With the large crowd expecting the match to draw to a conclusion with only minutes left, Ashbourne attempted a rather speculative drop kick at goal which soared between the uprights to give the visitors a three points lead with only minutes left.  Spalding were spurned into greater effort as Harry Sharman returned to the field after being injured for two weeks and try as they might it was not to be. First Andy Lal linked with Sharman and used his speed on the right wing only to be stopped short of the line.  Again Spalding’s forwards pressurised the Ashbourne line but they were unable to break the visitor’s defence who had worked hard and successfully for an encouraging win.

Spalding RFC:  Ryan Chappell (captain), Pete Waudby, Jacob Harwood, Alex Ioannou, Andy Hoyles, Tim Waltham, Tom Duerden, Josh Finch, Ed Duerden, Rob Lucas, James West, Andy Lal, Harry Harrison, Matty Newman, Dan Cooper, Ben Williams, Ash Piccaver, Harry Sharman.  

Photo: File pic   


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