Midlands One East: Huntingdon & District 48 Spalding 0
A poor performance sent Spalding to another defeat.
The first team had not played at Huntingdon for ten years and if Spalding were going to resurrect their season this was one of the fixtures that had to be won.
Harry Sharman made a welcome return having proved his fitness after his long lay-off last week in the seconds and was named man of the match.
After a good performance last week against Ampthill in the seconds Jacob Hutson was back in at prop and Ben Williams returned from injury in the front row.
With captain Ryan Chappell absent due to work commitments Sam Cooke led the team onto the field and with a strong wind and the slope of the pitch in their favour there was an air of expectation for the travelling supporters that this could be a winning day.
The opening exchanges were fairly inconclusive with both sets of forwards battling out for possession.
In defence Huntingdon in particular were closing space down extremely quickly and centres Sion Williams and George Brown were unable to find any space to run with ball in hand.
With Spalding having the edge, Huntingdon opened the scoring midway through the first half with the ball spread out to their right-winger Barney West to outpace the cover defence for a converted try.
Coach Andy McMahon called a tactical change with scrum-half Will Shields being replaced by Williams and Josh Caley coming off the bench into the front row.
Spalding’s ball retention was proving not to be up to the mark, handing possession and field position over to the home team.
Huntingdon benefited ten minutes later when their forward drove effectively for a further converted try.
To have been in with a shout of winning the match Spalding needed to have been in the lead at half-time having played with the weather and pitch advantage, but found themselves battling to survive.
Huntingdon very quickly demonstrated how to play the conditions with towering kicks down field into the corners and, although Spalding’s lineout was working relatively well, poor handling or lost possession at the breakdown allowed the home team’s back row in particular to punch decisive holes in the visitors’ defence and the tries started to be conceded.
Tim Waltham sustained a nasty ankle injury, with Brian Browne slotting in at lock and Shields coming back on.
With a substantial cushion and with most of the second half been played in Spalding’s territory, Huntingdon’s fly-half took the opportunity to sell a wonderful dummy pass to sail in under the posts and with their left-winger also going in wide at the final whistle the home team had a comfortable win.
This was perhaps Spalding’s poorest performance of the season as, although they battled away, they never really got into the match or threatened Huntingdon’s try line – in complete contrast to the previous week’s performance when for 20 minutes they had dominated Derby.
During the match little was seen of Jos Broome’s ability to kick deep for the corners. Also missing was Spalding’s successful deployment of the driving maul from lineouts while their tactics of trying to keep the ball in hand came completely unstuck.
Spalding: Cooke, B Williams, Hutson, Piccaver, Waltham, Sharman, Richardson, H Brown, Shields, Broome, Browne, S Williams, G Brown, Lane, Booth, Caley, Read, Beschizza.