Old Northamptonians 95 Spalding 0
Spalding travelled to Northampton with a heavily-depleted side and were on the receiving end of their heaviest defeat for several years.
Injuries, illness and unavailability meant the squad heavily had to be reinforced from the second team and, with Spalding residing at the bottom of Midlands One East and ONs lying fourth, the omens were not stacked in their favour.
Straight off from the kick-off ONs were on the front foot with their speed to the breakdown areas and the threequarters showing glimpses of their handling and support play, which would become a feature of the match.
But it was Spalding who set up the first driving maul and the visitors’ forwards took heart.
However, on five minutes ONs lock forward broke through a Spalding tackle and scored in the corner.
Five minutes later it was ONs other lock forward who demonstrated speed and strength to touch down and a few minutes later all the home team’s forwards drove the Spalding pack for a pushover try.
Full-back Ben Hoyles, returning from injury, had to retire after 20 minutes with Charlie Seconde coming off the bench.
Spalding forwards were generally holding their own in the scrum allowing Harry Brown – playing No 8 – to pick the ball with either Will Shields at scrum half or Dan Mackie at fly half supporting.
Another positive feature of Spalding’s play was their defensive line speed cutting down ONs attacking options, but as the tackles kept going in ONs always seemed to have a support runner for an offload or they secured their ruck to set up another attacking option led by their excellent scrum half.
To relive pressure Mackie was kicking to touch to gain territory. However ONs demonstrated their superior lineout ability, winning all their own ball and immediately coming back on the attack.
Prop Jacob Hutson took a knock and was replaced by John Barrett and by half-time ONs were leading by 53-0.
With the slope in ONs favour in the second half there was the potential for Spalding to be on a hiding to nothing but they tackled out of their sinks and their defensive shape was better than in many of their recent matches.
Tim Waltham, who was having an excellent game, was leading the lineout jumping but by now ONs had worked out Spalding ploys denying the visitors any possession and in the first 20 minutes of the second half a further four tries were conceded.
However, Spalding’s team spirit could clearly be seen in the last 20 minutes of the match.
Ed Booth outsprinted the initial ONs defence and was finally caught metres away from the try line.
Spalding were also starting to string together some passing moves and the defensive line was still working, cutting down ONs attacking options right up to the dying moments of the match.
The final score may have been 95-0 but Spalding showed great heart in keeping going against an excellent team.
Spalding: Chappell, Waudby, Caley, Hutson, Waltham, Browne, Beshizza, Maclaren, H Brown, Shields, Mackie, Booth, Lake, Moore, Hoyles, Seconde, Barrett, Osborne.