Spalding must learn from heavy defeat

Mark Haighton
Mark Haighton

Bugbrooke 62 Spalding 3

Last season Bugbrooke 
finished in fourth place in 
Midlands One East just a few points from securing a play-off spot for promotion to the 
National Leagues.

There were several changes to the Spalding squad who had faced Belgrave the previous weekend.

Mark Haighton was making a welcome return to lock with Jeremy Darley unavailable and with George Brown suffering from a hamstring strain in midweek training Josh Broome started on the wing.

Dan Mackie made his first-team debut in the unfamiliar right-wing position with Hamish Munro also being unavailable.

Jim Williams was making a return to the first team at fly-half, replacing Rob Lucas, after an absence of 18 months and Tim Waltham started at openside flanker in place of captain Harry Sharman.

Even allowing for these changes, on paper, it still looked a promising Spalding squad.

Spalding kicked off with a slope and wind advantage and in the early exchanges it became clear that their game plan was to keep the ball around the forwards with Tom Duerden, Ash Piccaver and Alex Ioannou prominent.

However after 10 minutes Bugbrooke spread the ball along their three-quarter line who demonstrated their passing skills at pace to put the 
right- winger in for a converted try.

Bugbrooke were exerting sustained pressure on Spalding by giving them no time on ball before a tackle was coming in or forcing handling errors and resultant lose of possession.

Quick thinking through a tapped penalty by Bugbrooke caught Spalding dawdling and with missed tackles the home team were through the defence and with crisp handling, ran half the length of the field for a converted try under the posts.

Tries by the home team 
followed in the 32nd and 36th minutes and at half-time Bugbrooke were winning 33-0.

Spalding started the second half brightly, showing the team spirit of the previous week and after only two minutes of play Ben Williams provided a pass to his brother Jim who slotted over a delightful drop goal.

Bugbrooke were turning the screws and were now clearly in control of the match.

Their superior fitness and slick team play was slicing open Spalding’s defence, especially out wide, as they continued to run in tries at regular intervals.

The last two tries by Bugbrooke clearly illustrated the gap between the two teams on the day.

On 70 minutes a penalty 
kick to the corner resulted in a Bugbrooke lineout just eight metres from the try line. A planned catch and drive worked to perfection with the Spalding defence in tatters.

Five minutes later Spalding 
missed a kick to touch and 
Bugbrooke took ample advantage with the final try of the match.

The Spalding players were clearly disappointed with the result and will have to take it on the chin and up their game.

The general standard of play, fitness and handling skills in this Midland One League is certainly a big step up from last season and the Spalding squad of players are going to have to take this experience as a learning curve on the level of play they will have to achieve to be competitive this season.

Spalding second team were also away to Bugbrooke. It was a highly competitive game between two fairly evenly matched teams with Bugbrooke coming out winners.

Ash Anker, who played first-team rugby last season before sustaining a shoulder injury, unfortunately needed medical attention as he dislocated the same shoulder.

Spalding: Chappell, Waudby, Rowlands, Ioannou, Piccaver, Haighton, Brown, Waltham, Duerden, B Williams, J Williams, Mackie, S Williams, Broome, McHugh, Cooke, Charity, Anker.