Spalding suffered a heavy home defeat to start 2016.
Scunthorpe, currently riding high in the National Three Midlands league, came to the Memorial Field on Saturday showing due respect to Town and their recently improved performances by fielding many of their regular first-team players including all their forwards who went on to dominate the game by scoring all but one of their tries.
In surprisingly good conditions, immediately the visitors’ forwards showed their intent with a driving maul which could not be contained by Spalding’s defence for their opening try after four minutes.
The response by Town to this setback was impressive as they battled and tackled for every ball.
Spalding’s scrum was constantly being put under pressure by the Scunthorpe pack as they were on average two stone heavier per person, fit and powerful.
Town’s front five of Pete Waudby, captain Sam Cooke, Sam Cowell – later replaced by Jay Harwood – Mickey Watts and Jordan Templer showed tremendous determination throughout the afternoon under severe pressure.
Likewise at every lineout Scunthorpe were showing their class, skill and height advantage – making retention of the ball by Spalding on their own ball extremely difficult.
This superiority was illustrated midway through the first half when Town did not challenge at the throw in but left a gap for Scunthorpe’s flanker to exploit and score.
By half-time the opposition forwards had scored six tries – number eight Dave Garbutt with a hat-trick to lead 40-0.
The second half started in similar vein with Scunthorpe’s flanker scoring.
However Spalding’s back row of Ash Anker, Harry Sharman and Tom Duerden were constantly in the thick of things.
Duerden, on his return to the side, was carrying the ball particularly well – gaining territory, offloading or setting up rucks for another phase.
Territory was not one-sided and Spalding in phases were taking the game to Scunthorpe, testing their defence which finally cracked with Anker – who produced a man-of-the-match display – going over for Spalding’s only try and James West converting.
Second-team captain Richard Cooke, with regular scrum-half Will Shields on the wing, was constantly probing around the fringes and causing problems.
Scunthorpe forwards continued to demonstrate their level of execution with further tries whenever they were within striking distance of the Spalding line.
A stand-out feature in the match for Spalding was how the reshuffled backs, organised by West at fly-half, with Harry Lane and Harry Harrison as centres, closed down the space – giving no room for their opposite numbers to throw the ball around, with hardly a tackle missed. No tries were scored from open play by the Scunthorpe backs.
The match finished with a rousing five-minute response by Spalding with the Scunthorpe try line under severe pressure.
Duerden was stopped on the line twice with Waudby and Cooke also halted inches short but Scunthorpe illustrated they were also not bad with their tackling and try line defence.
Spalding: Waudby, S Cooke, Cowell, Watts, Templer, Anker, Sharman, Duerden, R Cooke, West, Shields, Lane, Harrison, Douglas, Broome. Subs: Harwood, Barrett, Caley, Brown.
Spalding return to action in the Midlands Two East (North) on Saturday with a trip to leaders Dronfield.