Midlands One East - Syston 100 Spalding 5
The outcome of this match was never in doubt, just the margin of an expected win for Syston who were looking to secure a bonus point victory to be crowned league champions and book their place for next season in National Three Midlands.
A long and winless season has clearly taken its toll on Spalding’s first team with an extensive injury list and non-availability of some of the experienced players which would have been essential to help the younger players stepping up to a level many had not been expecting to play.
In the pack there was a welcome return for Tim Waltham after a two-month absence with an ankle injury and John Barrett was again in the front row alongside Sam Cooke and Pete Waudby.
The backs were short of Ryan Chappell and coach Ben Williams had to start the match in the unfamiliar role of fly-half with George Brown at inside centre seeing if his hamstring would stand up to a full game. The rest of the backs were all very promising Colts.
Playing with a strong wind advantage Syston were soon into their stride and within the first ten minutes the home team were capitalising on lost ball by Spalding for two easy tries.
Steadily Spalding were getting into the match, especially the back row of Liam Richardson, Waltham and Harry Brown prominent with covering tackles or good carries and Will Shields was demonstrating that he was the best scrum-half on the park with a much-improved pass and tackling any forward that came his way.
With a stronger set of forwards Syston were always winning their own ball either in the scrum, at the lineout or at the breakdown and four more tries were conceded.
However in the last ten minutes leading up to half-time Spalding went through phases of possession with the forwards prominent and excellent retention of the ball but just did not have that cutting edge to turn possession into points.
George Brown’s hamstring problems resulted in George Douglas coming on at half-time, Josh Caley on for Barrett in the front row and later Will Moore coming on as replacement flanker.
Very quickly Syston turned an excellent relieving kick from Josh Broome deep in their half into a sweeping move the length of the pitch for a good try and some poorly executed tackles by Spalding started to open the floodgates in the second half.
But with ten minutes in the second half on the clock, Syston were penalised for coming in the side of a ruck and decent from the home forwards saw the referee march a further 10 metres for Broome to kick for touch near the home side’s five-metre line for a Spalding lineout.
Cooke’s throw to Waltham was well taken and a driving maul was established with Pete Waudby in control at the back and as hard as Syston tried to disrupt progress Waudby was over to put Spalding on the scoreboard.
The home team continued their scoring spree and celebrated at the end of the match as champions.
Spalding: Waudy, Cooke, Barrett, B Browne, Templer, Waltham, Richardson, H Brown, Shields, Williams, Lane, G Brown, C Douglas, Booth, Broome, Caley, Moore, G Douglas.