SPALDING RFC: Town rue Phillips’ missed conversion

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Spalding RFC 20 Paviors RFC 22: JUST a lick of paint denied Town a share of the spoils in this absorbing Midlands One East clash at the Memorial Field on Saturday.

Trailing 22-20 with a few minutes remaining, Ollie Phillips’ late conversion attempt came back off the upright to sentence Spalding to the narrowest of defeats.

Having lost the reverse 37-0 back in October, Town were looking for a much-improved showing against high-flying Paviors.

But another heavy loss looked on the cards, as the away side made a super start.

Spalding kicked off with the wind in their favour, but it didn’t make a great deal of difference.

They were behind without having even touched the ball, as from the first kick Paviors raced through for their first try in the corner – with barely a minute on the clock. The conversion went wide.

It got worse for the hosts soon after, as the away side won the ball from their own scrum and touched down a second unconverted try.

Eventually Spalding got themselves up and running, though. Skipper Harry Sharman ran 50 yards before Paviors were pulled up for offside, allowing Phillips to kick a penalty.

There was no immediate fightback though, as Paviors pushed Town back.

After kicking a penalty into touch, the visitors started a maul which took them all the way to the line for a converted score.

A fresh attitude in the Spalding team was beginning to emerge though, and within two minutes a catch and drive by the solid pack of forwards resulted in a well-taken try by hooker Craig Dowse.

With the half-time score 8-22, it looked as if Spalding would have a tough time of it against wind in the second half. But whatever their coaches said at the interval certainly made a difference, as it was all Town after the break.

Sharman, who as usual was leading from the front, had a try ruled out before running in the hosts’ second try of the afternoon. Phillips converted to make it 15-22.

Spalding now had the determination and even against the strong wind they were always pressuring the Paviors line.

Winger Tim Smith, making his debut, was among those to impress as he showed that he would have much to offer for the future.

But it was Spalding’s big man Joel Riddle who grabbed their third try, bursting through to put them within a kick of parity.

It wasn’t to be though, as Phillips’ conversion hit the upright and span back into play. The loss is Town’s ninth of the season and it keeps them in the bottom four.

Spalding RFC: Harry Sharman (captain), Peter Shakespeare, Craig Dowse, Andy Branton, Ed Duerden, Mark Haighton, Tom Duerden, Phil Taylor, Harry Brown, Rob Lucas, Tim Smith, Adam McHugh, Ben Williamson, George Brown, Ollie Phillips, Joel Riddle, Andy Hoyles and Lance Charity.

Sat - Town v Derby (2.15pm).