SPALDING RFC: Town’s away woes a big worry

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BEDFORD ATHLETIC 23 SPALDING RFC 12: TOWN’S travel sickness continues to hamper their progress as another away defeat plunged them into the bottom two.

Without a league win away from the Memorial Field in almost a year, Spalding’s status as a Midlands One East club is looking more precarious by the week.

They pushed Bedford all the way on Saturday, but in the end indiscipline cost them dear at the death.

Visiting a side they beat narrowly earlier in the season, Spalding’s hopes were high prior to kick-off. They started well too, grabbing the first try.

Jim Williams, Dave Hankinson and Harry Sharman linked up well, before the latter offloaded for Tom Duerden to touch down. Hankinson converted to put Town 7-0 up on ten minutes.

Athletic hit back with an unconverted score from their winger midway through the half, before getting their noses ahead five minutes later.

After winning the ball from a lineout, Bedford’s fly-half made a clever cross field kick to his left wing, who was able to gather the ball and touch down in the far corner. Again the kick missed, but the hosts were now 10-7 up.

The final score of the half also went to Bedford, as Spalding were penalised for wheeling the scrum – leaving a kickable penalty.

Town were under the cosh early in the second period, but fly half Hankinson seized an opportunity and, having side stepped two tackles, found himself clear with some 60 metres to the Athletic try line.

Although being chased down by the defence, he still managed to pick a pass to Ollie Phillips, who used his speed to cross the line and score. Hankinson’s conversion missed, making it 13-12 to the hosts.

Having worked so hard to set-up a grandstand finish, yellow cards to two Spalding players then ended their chances. First Richie Craig visited the sin bin for an offence from a lineout, then Dan Adams’ deliberate knock on left the visitors with 13 men.

Inevitably, Bedford made their numerical advantage count with an instant score from their three-quarters, but again the conversion missed.

Craig returned to the pitch with two minutes remaining, but there was still time for another unconverted score from the home side.

Although firmly in the game until the final 15 minutes, it’s now five successive league defeats for Spalding, who were leapfrogged by Coalville.

With two teams likely to go down, it’s important that the losing run comes to an end against high-flying Matlock this weekend.

Town: Harry Sharman (captain), Pete Shakespeare, Craig Dowse, Jimmy Rowlands, Mark Haighton, Josh McNally, Tom Duerden, Ed Duerden, Jim Williams, Dave Hankinson, George Brown, Ryan Chappell, Ollie Phillips, Dan Adams, Rob Lucas, Charlie Boothby, Richie Craig, Ash Anker.

Saturday: Town v Matlock (2.15pm).