SPALDING RFC 27 LEIGHTON BUZZARD 22: TOWN registered their first Midlands One East win of the season with a dominant display at the Memorial Field – although they may come to rue the narrow margin of their success.
Spalding started with two of their new recruits, Josh McNally and Chris Crane, in the second row and front rows respectively, while Jim Williams also made a welcome return, writes Geof Nichols.
It wasn’t long before the powerful McNally made his mark. From a scrum in the Buzzard half, fly half Dave Hankinson broke through two tackles before passing to McNally who used his strength from 20 metres to cross the line and score under the posts. Hankinson added the conversion all within the first 15 minutes.
From the restart Spalding were again pressing, but a breakthrough by their centre allowed Buzzard to win the ball and score their first try, although it was unconverted.
Town then found themselves behind as a Buzzard winger cut inside to cross the line under the posts, leaving a simple conversion for his kicker.
Within the space of five minutes Spalding were back in the lead, though.
McNally broke at the back of the line and passed to Harry Brown, who scored under the posts to make it 14-12.
Hankinson added another three points before the interval to strengthen Town’s position.
From the restart Spalding kicked deep into the visitors half and were soon crossing the line again – only for the score to be ruled out.
The hosts weren’t to be denied, though. Debutant Crane took the ball against the head and quickly moved it on to Ollie Phillips on the wing.
Phillips swerved around two tackles before he was high tackled with only metres to go before crossing the line.
That resulted in a penalty try for Town and a Leighton yellow card. Hankinson converted to move the score to 24-12 with 20 minutes of the match left to play.
Buzzard replied with an unconverted score of their own, but Spalding were in no mood to throw the game away.
Harry Brown, having one of the best games of his career, broke through the centre and took play to within five metres of the try line before he was stopped.
The ball was moved between the forwards with McNally and Crane only being stopped two metres short of the try line.
Spalding received a penalty for their efforts which Hankinson converted to increase the gap to ten points between the two sides with ten minutes left.
Although Buzzard did register another unconverted score, the points were safe.
Spalding RFC: Rob Lucas (captain), Andy Branton, Chris Crane, Jimmy Rowlands, Josh McNally, Mark Haighton, Andy Hoyles, Ed Duerden, Harry Brown, Dave Hankinson, Ollie Phillips, Mike Beeken, Ben Williamson, George Brown, Jim Williams, Peter Shakespeare, Ryan Chappell, Ben Hausermann.
• Saturday – Market Rasen & Louth v Spalding (3pm).