PETERBOROUGH RFC 1st 33 SPALDING RFC 1st 27: GUTSY Town collected three vital bonus points as they narrowly missed out on a derby double at Fortress Fengate.
Trailing 33-8 at one stage on Saturday, Spalding roared back to within a converted score of an incredible victory – which would have virtually assured their status as a Midlands One East side.
Although Leighton Buzzard won below them, Town are five points clear of the drop zone with three games left to play.
The first half was all in favour of Peterborough – and the score looked ominous for the away side at half time.
Spalding did, however, notch the first score of the afternoon. A break from Mark Haighton and Josh McNally saw the city side punished for offside, allowing the returning Dave Hankinson to kick a penalty.
Peterborough came straight back at their visitors though, scoring the opening try (unconverted) of the game in the corner.
They extended their lead soon after when a scrum was wheeled and their centres made a neat move to cross under the posts, leaving a simple conversion.
Undeterred, Town won a loose ball and a broke down the right side, allowing winger Kevin Childs to step inside a player and cross the line for their first try, which went unconverted.
What followed was a poor ten minutes from Spalding, which ultimately cost them the game. A galloping run from a home winger saw Peterborough recorded a third try, while a break from a scrum allowed them to cross the line again.
Both scores were converted, leaving Town 26-8 behind at the interval.
Although talismanic skipper Harry Sharman was introduced as a second-half substitute after recovering from illness, Spalding shipped another converted score to fall further behind.
Ryan Chappell was also forced off through injury, but the away side refused to lie down. The recalled Ash Anker drove for the line and piled through the final tackle to score, leaving Hankinson an easy conversion.
Then Rob Lucas collected the ball and made good ground. The ball came back to Sharman, who glided stealthily between the defence to touch down under the posts. Hankinson converted to move the score on to 33-22.
With Peterborough looking flustered, they had a player yellow carded to further hand Spalding the initiative.
Another try followed, as the away side won a lineout and worked the ball across the field to Sharman, who drew his man before giving the final pass to Ed Duerden to score in the corner.
Although Hankinson’s conversion failed, Town were within a score of the lead.
That failed to materialise, but Spalding ended the game on the attack and take many positives from their showing.
Town: Harry Sharman (captain), Ant Buckberry, Jim Rowlands, Fraser Welsh, Josh McNally, Tom Duerden, Ash Anker, Ed Duerden, Rob Lucas, Dave Hankinson, Kevin Childs, Ryan Chappell, Ben Williamson, Dan Adams, Duncan Knight, Peter Shakespeare, Mark Haighton, George Brown.
• Sat: Spalding v Derby (3pm).