Spalding ready for battle

Spalding 1st XVs skipper Sam Cooke (left) is preparing his side for a physical battle against Mansfield at Memorial Field on Saturday.  Photo by Claudia Afonso.
Spalding 1st XVs skipper Sam Cooke (left) is preparing his side for a physical battle against Mansfield at Memorial Field on Saturday. Photo by Claudia Afonso.
  • Midlands Two East (North) - Spalding v Mansfield (Saturday 2.15pm)

A real “first among equals” contest is in store for Spalding when they host Mansfield at Memorial Field on Saturday (kick-off 2.15pm).

The Elephants aim to bounce back from losing for the first time in three matches against a side just six points above them in Midlands Two East (North).

Fly half James West has stepped up to the plate as acting Spalding 1st XVs vice skipper in the absence of Adam McHugh.  Photo by Claudia Afonso.

Fly half James West has stepped up to the plate as acting Spalding 1st XVs vice skipper in the absence of Adam McHugh. Photo by Claudia Afonso.

Despite their 31-6 loss at league leaders Dronfield last Saturday, Town skipper Sam Cooke took confidence from his side’s ability to stay in the game for 60 minutes.

Cooke said: “In the first half, we held Dronfield and got points on the board.

“But sadly they ran away with it in the second half when our tackling wasn’t the best and we made some big errors that Dronfield capitalised on.”

Spalding were without vice-captain Adam McHugh and back Harry Brown, injured in the Lincolnshire Cup clash with Scunthorpe two weeks ago, far from ideal ahead of the physical battle to come against Mansfield.

If we can make it three home wins in a row that would be great because we’ve played most of the top teams now and have a run-in against teams who we need to get points against.

Sam Cooke

Cooke said: “They are always big up front and a very aggressive side so we’ll need to play with plenty of grit and determination.

“If we can make it three home wins in a row that would be great because we’ve played most of the top teams now and have a run-in against teams who we need to get points against.”

Town have ex-club skipper Ryan Chappell back alongside talisman Harry Sharman and Mikey Watts, as well as the increasingly impressive form of fly-half James West.

“Ryan is very good, very vocal and even when he doesn’t say something, he shows it in his tackling which is something I try to pass on to the younger lads,” Cooke said.

“Along with Harry and Mikey, all three of them won’t be easily intimidated or worried about Mansfield.

“James has stepped up to be vice-captain, in the absence of Adam, and he’s a total professional on the pitch.”

This week will also see the debut of ex-Peterborough Lions youngster Tom Winch who Cooke hopes will “prove his worth on Saturday”.