NUNEATON OE 24 SPALDING RFC 19: TRAVEL sick Town suffered a disappointing defeat as their miserable away record continued on Saturday.
This was a match that Spalding had targeted as must-win to ease their relegation worries.
But knowing Town hadn’t picked up an away victory in Midlands One East all season, hosts Nuneaton had similar ideas.
Spalding, making their first-ever visit to Nuneaton, found the heavy pitch a massive disadvantage throughout. The hosts played a mauling and rumbling forward style of rugby, which proved most suitable to the pitch.
However, it was Spalding who had the first points on the board. Skipper Harry Sharman broke clear with a 30 metre run – and from the tackle a Nuneaton player was penalised some 40 metres out.
The long range kick was cleanly converted by Dave Hankinson to open the score after only four minutes of play.
However, Nuneaton soon hit back as Spalding missed a host of tackles – which was a recurring problem for the visitors all afternoon. They touched down left of the posts and their kicker converted to make it 7-3 after ten minutes.
Undeterred, Town were soon back on the attack and it wasn’t long before another Hankinson penalty reduced the arrears.
From the re-start Sharman claimed the ball and kicked for touch.
Nuneaton cleanly won the lineout and drove infield, but were penalised for not releasing the ball.
Hankinson again converted and after 18 minutes Spalding had their noses back in front.
That’s how it stayed until the closing stages of the half, when Spalding’s second row Josh McNally was yellow carded.
With Town under pressure, they lost the ball from a scrum and the Nuneaton back row broke to the left to score, leaving an easy conversion to make it 14–9 in their favour at the break.
Spalding started the second half with only 14 players and soon found themselves further behind after shipping a penalty.
McNally returned, but Nuneaton were awarded a penalty. Their kicker could not convert, but after Spalding cleared their lines, the home side came straight back and cut through the defence to score just wide of the posts.
The conversion was made, leaving Town 24-9 down after 60 minutes and staring down the barrel at another away loss.
However, the away side refused to accept defeat and enjoyed a strong finish to the match. After Ollie Phillips’ kick forward, Jimmy Rowlands went off on one of his trademark charges across field.
He linked with the ever-impressive Sharman, who made ground before passing for Richie Craig to go over for Town’s first try. Hankinson added the conversion.
In the closing stages McNally, Rowlands and Pete Shakespeare took play in to the Nuneaton 22 metre area, before Spalding were awarded a penalty. Hankinson, who had a great day with the boot, was successful and earned his side what could prove a vital bonus point.
That’s because just four points now canvas the bottom four sides – with two likely to go down.
Town: Sharman (captain), Rowlands, Dowse, Welsh, McNally, Duerden, Craig, E Duerden, J Williams, Hankinson, Phillips, Chappell, Williamson, Childs, Lucas, Shakespeare, Haighton, Scotney.
• Saturday: Town v Coalville (2.15pm).