SPALDING RFC 18 BEDFORD ATHLETIC RFC 17: A LAST-GASP penalty from stand-in skipper Dave Hankinson earned Town the narrowest of victories on Saturday.
Hankinson, who is deputising as captain for the injured Harry Sharman, kept his nerve to earn Spalding their second Midlands One East win of the campaign.
It was also the perfect response for Town after the previous weekend’s mauling at Market Rasen and Louth.
Bedford kicked off with the wind in their favour – and they immediately went on the attack.
A penalty to the visitors straight into the corner gave the visitors a lineout and from the tail they drove hard for the line to notch an unconverted score.
Spalding battled back and were awarded a penalty in front of the Bedford posts, but chose to run – only for the ball to be held up short of the line.
However, the hosts were soon level. Spalding showed strength in the scrum before Chris Crane was able to touch down for an unconverted try.
There was still time for Athletic to re-take the lead before the half-time interval, though.
A mix-up from a Spalding lineout in their own five allowed Bedford to steal a try when the ball should have been cleared, making it 5-10.
After a scrappy start to the second period, Hankinson reduced the deficit to 8-10 with a cool penalty.
Spalding then surged into the lead when Jordan Andrade, making his home debut, powered through a number of tackles before using his pace to touch down for a try. Hankinson added a conversion to go five points clear.
With the match now poised nicely, Bedford were next to bag another try.
The visitors were putting pressure on the home side and a drive to the line brought them a score – which this time was converted by their kicker – to give them a two-point lead at 15-17 with just under ten minutes to play.
Bedford attempted to wrap the win up, but Town were in no mood to yield.
The hosts battled back and were awarded three penalties.
The first was cleared to the halfway, the second from the lineout took them into the Bedford 22 metre and the third one was awarded for their opponents being offside.
Hankinson placed the ball – and made no mistake.
Town: Hankinson (c), Branton, Crane, Rowlands, Haighton, McNally, Hoyles, Anker, H Brown, J Williams, G Brown, McHugh, Andrade, Chappell, Williamson, Buckberry, T Duerden, Lucas.
• Sat – Matlock v Spalding (3pm).