Saturday’s clash with high-riding Southwell brought a match of high quality and commitment with Spalding right in the game until the last 10 minutes when a couple of lapses in concentration let the visitors pull away for a bonus point away win.
The opening few minutes did not help Spalding’s cause with Southwell dominating possession and in the third minute capitalising by scoring a well-worked converted try.
The visitors were showing they had plenty of confidence with a well-drilled pack and forceful centres and Spalding were forced to defend with flankers Harry Waine and Richard Cooke always in the thick of things and centres Harry Winch and George Brown organising a press defence to close space and reduce Southwell’s attacking options.
Having survived and starting to come into the game, using the pace of Gav Sharman on the wing, Spalding were rocked back when again Southwell’s forward platform gained them territory, resulting in a converted try for a lead of 14 points on the half-hour mark.
Spalding responded with Ash Piccaver, playing in the unaccustomed number eight position, breaking from the scrum and carrying the ball deep into the opposition’s half. Quick ball from the ruck by scrum-half Will Shields to fly-half Taylor Crowson saw him cut back inside his opposite number and he went under the posts.
With Crowson converting the try, the lead had been cut and for the final five minutes of the first half Spalding had Southwell rattled.
Again at the start of the second half Spalding were on top, challenging every ball and winning turnovers.
Spalding’s forwards won a notable scrum against the head and Luke Turner came off the bench replacing Waine.
Southwell’s captain, who had played for Nottingham in the Championship, stepped forward as he controlled a well-worked scrum on Spalding’s five-metre line and from the number eight position went over for an unopposed try.
Spalding still felt they were in with a shout.
Forceful running by Brown gained territory and suddenly Sharman was released on the right wing. Having outpaced the initial defence, he attempted a kick over the final defender but was foiled.
The forwards, with Mark Heighton at the front of the lineout, won the ball and set up a maul but Southwell held firm on their try line.
Then a couple of lapses in the final 10 minutes saw Southwell ease away with two tries.
The visitors’ president praised Spalding’s display and could not understand why they were not a mid-table team.
The key difference between the two teams was the level of execution with Southwell always capitalising on their scoring opportunities.
Spalding: Barrett, Cowell, Caley, Templer, Heighton, Cooke, Waine, Piccaver, Shields, Crowson, G Sharman, Winch, Brown, H Sharman, Douglas. Subs Turner, Bailey.