England rugby legend Richard Hill MBE provided the winning touch needed to seal Spalding RFC’s place in the SSE Midlands Division Two play-offs.
The 2003 World Cup winner and ex-England flanker was at Memorial Park on Saturday to see Niall Thomson’s side run in 12 tries against Bakewell Mannerians to book a place in the promotion play-off at home to Newbold on Avon on April 26.
Hill worked alongside Spalding head coach Niall Thomson after the club won a national grassroots rugby competition with England Rugby sponsors, QBE Insurance Group.
“I grew up within grassroots rugby so I know it’s importance within the community,” said Hill. It’s been quite a journey with Spalding RFC and I was so proud of the performance from the boys.
“We focused a great deal on the core basics and technique during the training session before the match and I was happy to see they had taken this on board during the match.”
Spalding produced a quality performance that was fitting of the occasion.
Indeed they could have scored even more points than they did as they hammered Bakewell Mannerians 70-13.
The result ensured they will be at home for the April 26 play-off against Midland Two East (South) runners-up Newbold on Avon.
They were 15-0 after just 12 minutes thanks to tries from Tom Duerden, Andy Hoyles and skipper Harry Sharman although the windy conditions meant the conversions were missed. Bakewell briefly responded but Duerden set-up brother Ed for Spalding’s fourth try on 18 minutes to make it 20-5.
Wes Cope touched down just wide of the posts to give James West a simple conversion for 27-5 and Sharman and Ryan Chappell added further first-half tries as Spalding went in at the break 41-8 ahead.
Harry Harrison added the first try of the second half with West converting and it wasn’t long before Cope scored his second try and Sharman went over for a third time as Spalding dominated.
Sharman turned creator to set-up Ed Duerden for his second and Cope scored his side’s final try as they ran out comprehensive victors.
After the match, Sharman said: “We knew we were playing for a play-off spot and we have a lot of confidence for the Newbold game. Having Richard Hill with us, a World Cup winner, was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Spalding: Harry Sharman, Pete Waudby, Wes Cope, Alex Ioannou, Tom Duerden, Andy Hoyles, Ed Duerden, Harry Brown, Will Shields, James West, Hamish Munro, Ryan Chappell, George Brown, Harry Harrison, Adam McHugh, Sam Cooke, Josh Finch, Ed Booth.