ILKESTON RFC 45 SPALDING RFC 16: TOWN took plenty of positives despite being soundly beaten by an Ilkeston side that narrowly missed out on promotion on Saturday.
This was something of a dead rubber for Spalding, but the home side had everything to gain as they, along with three other teams at the top of the league were all fighting for the play-off place for promotion to National Three Midlands next season, writes GEOF NICHOLS.
Spalding kicked off in ideal firm conditions and with the slope in their favour. But it was Ilkeston who set out their intentions from the beginning.
Their fly-half kicked to his winger who knocked on in sight of the line. Initially Spalding defended well, but a long pass to the opposite Ilkeston winger created the opportunity for him to score in the corner. The conversion failed.
Town battled back, though. After a scrum they were thwarted just short of the line. From the resulting line-out Mark Haighton cleanly won the ball and offloaded to a fly-half Dave Hankinson.
That set Ollie Phillips free and he passed to full back John Charlton, who crossed for Spalding’s opening score. The conversion missed.
Now Spalding were showing promise, particularly through debutant duo Jacob Harwood and Ash Anker, who proved that the club have a cracking pool of reserves to call upon.
However, it was Ilkeston who broke through the centre and powered through the visitors’ defence to touch down the next score under the posts – and their kicker added the conversion to make it 12-5.
Town replied with a Hankinson penalty, then took the lead when a break through the centre involving Adam McHugh and Ben Hoyles released the pacey Phillips to touch down. Hankinson converted.
Two minutes later Ilkeston re-took the lead courtesy of a penalty – and they added another three points and a further unconverted score before the interval to lead 23-13.
The second half was not as productive for the visitors. Ilkeston managed to score four more tries but only one was converted. Spalding were only able to add a penalty to their score as some injuries started to take their toll on the team.
But for those who battled on as well as the Spalding’s duo of Harwood and Anker it was a match well played by all of the team, with no disgrace in losing to a side that were battling for promotion.
As it turned out, Mansfield took the coveted second place spot.
Town: Rob Lucas (c), Pete Waudby, Jacob Harwood, Pete Shakespeare, Mark Haighton, Joel Riddle, Tom Duerden, Ash Anker, Ed Duerden, Dave Harwood, Ryan Chappell, Adam McHugh, Ben Hoyles, Ollie Phillips, JD Charlton, Craig Dowse, Jimmy Rowland, George Brown.
• Saturday - Coalville v Town (3pm).