A seven-game season lies ahead for Spalding after their fight for survival took a turn for the worst against Melbourne at the Memorial Field.
The wounded expression of Town coach Bruno Figuireido said it all after watching his side lose their first home game in five, largely down to costly penalties, missed passes and conceding two tries in the last 15 minutes of the match.
The team was under pressure because we wanted to keep our unbeaten run going and in the second half, we made two mistakes which cost us 14 points
Signs of a new urgency in Spalding’s plight, on a day when rugby was put into perspective with confirmation of club chairman Geof Nichols’ death on Friday morning, came into view with appointment of George Reid to oversee a fundamental review of playing and coaching at the club.
Reid, who has a child involved in the Elephants’ youth set-up, was there on Saturday to see an unfamiliar Spalding side, with Harry Sharman, Sam Cowell and 1st XV vice-captain Adam McHugh all on the bench.
Figuireido said: “I changed the 1st XV a little bit, even though Harry is a key player for the team.
“But everyone needs playing and training time and the boys had a good game, they were very disciplined and showed an amazing attitude.
“We had injuries which broke up the continuity of the team, but the team was under pressure because we wanted to keep our unbeaten run going.
“The penalties in the first half changed the game and in the second half, we made two mistakes which cost us 14 points.”
Skipper Sam Cooke added: ”I’m a little bit disappointed because we played well in parts and the heart was there, but I just don’t think we were clinical enough.
“It’s been an emotional week for the club and it would have been nice to mark it with a win.
“But there were a lot of changes and our start wasn’t the best against Melbourne.”
Meanwhile, speaking about Reid’s appointment, club official Martin Beecham said: “George has come into the fold to support Bruno for the rest of the season.
“From then on, we can look at developing his role for next season.”
Director of coaching Kevin Wand added: “George has coached over in Ireland and has had an involvement at the University of Lincoln.
“As a Level 3 coach, he had a good pedigree and he is already a part of Spalding Rugby Club as his son plays here.
“Bruno is head coach and they are going to work alongside each other with equal parity as they’ve both got their particular skill sets.
“But in addition to the coaching, having someone of George’s experience is a good thing for us to look at the whole coaching and player development programme within the club.”