Spalding 16 Ilkeston 22
A vastly improved performance saw Spalding collect their first league point of the season.
They suffered a fifth defeat but picked up a losing bonus point to reward their efforts.
Spalding took to the field on Saturday at the Memorial Field with a more solid looking pack featuring the return of locks Jeremy Darley and Tom Deurden, a formidable front row combination of Pete Waudby, Sam Cooke and Alex Ioannou and Luke Scotney, Tim Waltham and the highly-experienced Ben Williams in the back row.
Additionally Rob Lucas was starting at scrum-half, providing some leadership in the three-quarters.
However with nearly a full team of first-team squad players being unavailable through injuries and non-availabilities and with Ilkeston lying fifth in the Midlands One East league, the signs were on the door for another challenging day.
Spalding started brightly and immediately you could see that they had been working hard on the training field as there was more organisation and structure to the team.
And it was not long before Ilkeston offended and Dan Mackie at fly-half put Spalding three points ahead with a successful penalty kick.
With the game flowing from end to end Ilkeston had opportunities with a couple of penalty kicks to draw level but the ball sailed wide on both occasions.
Lucas and Mackie were linking up and in particular the fly-half was showing some good touches and growing maturity with decent kicks to the touchline to gain territory.
With Spalding pressure telling Ilkeston conceded a penalty from 40 metres out which Mackie successfully kicked between the posts but Ilkeston responded with their own success penalty kick and with half an hour gone Spalding were 6-3 up.
Ilkeston were now getting into their stride and driving deep into Spalding territory through their forwards and Mackie being slow to retreat was caught offside deliberately intercepting Ilkeston’s possession.
The referee produced his yellow card reducing Spalding to 14 men for the next 10 minutes.
Ilkeston seized their chance and immediately spread the ball wide to their right-winger who broke through a weakened defence to score in the corner.
Further poor tackling in defence again let Ilkeston through for a further try for a half-time lead of 13-6.
With Mackie back on the field Spalding started the second half brightly demonstrating excellent team spirit with the forwards picking and driving the ball forward around the breakdown areas to gain territory but lost possession and a successful penalty kick saw Ilkeston creep further into the lead.
Immediately from the restart Spalding chased the ball down and Ilkeston conceded a penalty.
Mackie kicked for touch for a Spalding lineout 10 metres from the goal line.
Darley rose majestically into the air to secure the lineout possession and from the resulting maul the forwards drove towards the touchline with Waudby in control of the ball at the back. With the crowd urging Spalding forward Waudby successfully touched down for an unconverted try.
However a fairly immediate response saw Ilkeston go over for their third try to lead 22-11.
Great determination was being shown by the Spalding team and ten minutes later saw a carbon copy of the first try but this time it was Williams at the base of a driving maul as he went over for a further unconverted try and the score now read Spalding 16 Ilkeston 22 with 15 minutes left to play.
Deurden and Darley prominent in open play helped Spalding drive deep into Ilkeston territory and Spalding looked to have scored another try, only for the referee to disallow it for a double movement.
Spalding then had to dig deep with some determined defending as Ilkeston pressed forward before the final whistle blew.
With only a six-point difference Spalding had secured a very well-deserved losing bonus point with a highly encouraging performance.
Spalding: Ioannou (captain), Waudby, Cooke, Duerden, Darley, Scotney, Waltham, Williams, Lucas, Mackie, Booth, Williams, Brown, Lake, Broome, Caley, Shields, Charity.