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Spalding Test Loughborough Defence

Spalding 1st XV 49 - 12 Loughborough 1st XV

Last Updated: Feb 24, 2014 07:39pm
Spalding St. John's, South Holland
By Geof Nichols
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Spalding played their first rearranged match after the recent flooding in the knowledge that they could close the gap between themselves and the league leaders Belgrave, but every opportunity for maximum points and bonus points were crucial.      

In this encounter they were on top of the opposition the whole match and gave a solid and encouraging performance to their large number of supporters.          

Spalding, having lost the toss, kicked off with a strong wind behind them, which as it happened slackened off considerably as the match entered its fourth quarter.      

From the first kick the home side where deep into the visitors defence.    Loughborough were awarded a scrum and the ball came back to their full back to clear from his dead ball area. The clearing kick did not make any height and went straight into the hands of Spalding scrum half Ben Williams who only had two strides to go before he was over the line for the first score.      

James West converted and after only three minutes Spalding were 7 – 0 in front.    

Immediately Spalding pressured from the restart and play was looking very positive for the home side with the ball going through the three-quarters hands, but an interception by the visitors centre saw him have a clear 70 metre run to score under the posts.    The conversion was a formality and the score was level at 7 -7 after five minutes.   

Having recovered from this disappointment Spalding were having all the territory in the Loughborough half. They were awarded a penalty on the 22 metre line, West kicked for touch with the resultant lineout on the 5 metre line. Spalding won the lineout and drove for the line. Skipper Harry Sharman was driven over the line and scored his first try of the afternoon.      West converted and after 14 minutes the score was 14 – 7.       

Loughborough knocked on and Spalding won the scrum. Williams spun the ball out to the left where winger Harry Harrison received the ball and used his speed to beat the defence and touchdown.   

With a more difficult conversion West had no problem and the score had gone to 21 – 7 with a quarter of the match having passed.   Spalding were again showing a determined performance and that they were not going to disappoint their supporters. But after  considerable pressure from Spalding it was Loughborough who broke clear on the left as the Spalding were preparing to attack in the opposite direction.    

A long chase to the Spalding line resulted in Loughborough making their second score, which was not converted, but the score had gone to 21 – 12, showing Spalding that they could not afford for any slip up with the prospects of facing into the wind in the second half.      

Five minutes from the end of the first half Spalding had possession some forty metres from the try line. Sharman broke through the Loughborough defence and kicked the ball forward  before winning the race to touchdown for his side’s fourth try which West converted to take the score just before half time to 28 – 12.  

Spalding had now scored four tries and deservedly gained the bonus point they required.

In the second half the influential wind died down to such an extent that it had no bearing on the Spalding performance.      

The home side spent most of the match testing the defence of the visitors.

The next to scorer was winger Andy Lal who followed up his own kick to win the race to touch down. West, who was have a purple patch with his kicking converted and the score was 35 – 12. Spalding made the changes Andy Hoyle took over from Tim Waltham in the second row, Harry Brown, after returning to the club, replaced  Josh Finch in the back row and Wes Cope who had had an injury break came back on at hooker in place of Pete Waudby.  

Spalding were constantly in possession for most of the half. Next score was Harrison for his second try of the match.  He received the ball with still much to do and evaded the tackler to add his second try. West converted to take the score to 42 – 12.    

In the closing minutes Spalding were well on top of the match.   A kick a head  saw Lal racing through only to be denied the score by the Loughborough full back.  As the full time whistle approached Spalding were within ten metres of their opponents try line. Cope claimed the ball before deftly passing to his captain Sharman who rounded off the match with his third try, leaving West to complete an impeccable performance by converting his sides seventh try to take the final score to 49 – 12.     

This was an inspirational performance by a team that wants to catch the league leaders and on the afternoon increased their chances with an outstanding performance.

Spalding RFC 1st XV:  Harry Sharman (captain), Pete Waudby, Wes Cope, Alex Ioannou, Tom Duerden, Tim Waltham, Josh Finch, Ed Duerden, Ben Williams, James West, Andy Lal, George Brown, Ryan Chappell, Harry Harrison, Adam McHugh, Sam Cooke, Andy Hoyles and Harry Brown.  

Photo: File pic

     

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