Spalding 10 Huntingdon 44
Spalding and Huntingdon entered this bottom-of-the-table clash both winless so far this season.
From the kick-off on a dry and sunny afternoon, a much-changed Spalding team took the game to Huntingdon and enjoyed five minutes of fluent play and sustained pressure unfortunately without reward.
However turnover ball and some weak Spalding tackling allowed Huntingdon number eight James Thorp to go over for a try after 15 minutes.
Huntingdon added to their try with a second well worked score after 23 minutes with winger Johnathan Ward cutting a wonderful inside line and offloading to Ben Strangeways who scored the try.
The confidence and fluency which Spalding had exhibited at the very start had now been handed to Huntingdon who enjoyed dominance in the scrum and certainly in the possession stakes.
A very harsh yellow card for Spalding’s hard-working Luke Scotney after 30 minutes and injuries to Adam McHugh and Ben Williams left the home side facing an uphill struggle.
However after 35 minutes a Dan Mackey interception saw a strong crowd cheer him some 60 metres to the line and keep Spalding still well in the game.
Further disruption to the Spalding side and a poorly organised defence allowed Thorp to go over again for a simple try which was converted, leaving Spalding trailing 19 points to 5.
Some further poor tackling and strong Huntingdon running took the score to 24 points to 5 as the half-time whistle blew.
Huntingdon Stags scored again at the start of the second half from a missed Spalding touch kick, a feature which was to cost Spalding dearly all afternoon.
After the referee yellow-carded a Huntingdon player for indiscipline in the ruck, a brief period of Spalding sustained pressure brought rewards as Pete Waudby crashed over for an unconverted try.
Huntingdon soon rebuilt their lead, though, through a simple penalty awarded in front of the posts and a try on the left by Dan Malem quickly widened the gap in the score between the two teams.
For much of the second half Spalding had spent too long in their own final third of the field, valiantly defending their line but with the inevitable defensive cracks appearing.
A Seth Mugridge catch and drive over the line just before full-time which was converted took the final score to 44 points to 10 in favour of visitors.
The skill level and potential of these two teams appeared equal for much of the game but Huntingdon exhibited more composure on the ball, more fitness and took their chances when they came.
Spalding’s newcomers acquitted themselves well. Luke Scotney, Lance Charity and Dave Mclaren battled hard all afternoon. Harry Brown had a strong game
running with the ball in hand and was deservedly awarded man of the match by the away team. The backs showed glimpses of their potential but did not enjoy enough of the key ingredient; namely the ball.
Despite courageous endeavour, the frequent turnovers, missed tackles and missed scoring opportunities in perfect conditions, indicate muscles and minds
short of oxygen at key times. If this can be corrected Spalding’s season could still be successful but after four losses now the players, coaches and
spectators will be in no doubt that significant improvements are needed in order to rise from the foot of the table.
Spalding: Ioannou (captain), Waudby, Caley, Piccaver, Maclaren, Brown, Scotney, Williams, Shields, Mackie, Booth, Hoyles, Lake, Broome, McHugh, Lucas, Rowlands, Charity.