SPALDING RFC 13 LOUGHBOROUGH RFC 22: TOWN slipped into the bottom three of Midlands One East after this disappointing defeat on Saturday.
Loughborough, promoted in the summer, opened the scoring at the Memorial Field with a penalty inside seven minutes.
Spalding were constantly put under pressure and a second kick saw them fall 6-0 down on the quarter hour.
This seemed to wake the hosts up and they started to play some rugby in the opposition’s 22 metre area. The pressure finally told as Loughborough conceded a penalty, allowing Hankinson to reduce the deficit.
The visitors restarted and were soon pressurising the Spalding defence. And sure enough, a quick ball along their three-quarter line resulted in their left wing going over for the first try of the afternoon. The kicker converted possibly the most difficult kick of the afternoon to make it 13-3.
Spalding re-started but were soon on the backfoot and, although Jim Williams regularly cleared from his full back position, it was only a matter of time before the reliable Loughborough kicker buried another penalty.
It got worse for Town on the stroke of half time too, with another penalty sending them in to the dressing room 19-3 down.
Spalding seemed more committed to the cause after the break. A penalty on the halfway line resulted in them finding a good touch.
The lineout was won and the ball moved quickly, with Harry Sharman playing a major part, allowing winger Richard Cooke to touch down in the corner.
Although the conversion went wide, the Spalding were now back in the game. However, a long-range 40m penalty saw Loughborough move onto an unassailable looking 22 points.
Town rarely give up and as darkness was descending it was they who had the last passage of play. Spalding were awarded a penalty and Hankinson kicked for the corner.
Mark Haighton won the throw in and Spalding drove for the line.
The resistance from the visitors’ forwards was decisive, but Spalding were awarded another penalty.
This time the forwards drove with more determination and were rewarded with a deserved try for skipper Sharman. The final conversion went wide, denying Town a losing bonus point.
All eyes now turn to Leighton Buzzard, as Spalding conclude their 2011 fixtures with what now looks like a must-win game.
Spalding RFC: Harry Sharman (captain), Andy Branton, Craig Dowse, Pete Waudby, Mark Haighton, Ed Duerden, Ash Anker, Harry Brown, Rob Lucas, Dave Hankinson, Ollie Phillips, Adam McHugh, George Brown, Dan Adams, Jim Williams, Ant Buckberry, Richard Cooke, Luke Scotney.
• Saturday: Leighton Buzzard v Spalding RFC (2.15pm).