Town rugby club is up for the challenge

Harry Brown and Tom Duerden link up to score for Spalding RFC at Melbourne.  ANL-140204-153143002
Harry Brown and Tom Duerden link up to score for Spalding RFC at Melbourne. ANL-140204-153143002
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Spalding rugby coach Niall Thomson is expecting nothing less than a win from their penultimate Midlands Two East (N) game of the season at Ashbourne on Saturday.

As the season reaches crunch time, Town find themselves just four points behind leaders Belgrave after winning their game in hand 21-14 at Melbourne last weekend.

But the win came at a price, with try-scorer Ben Williams ruled out of the trip to Ashbourne after injuring his ribs and kidney when he was tackled in the process of touching down in the corner.

Thomson said: “You need a degree of flexibility in your 18-man squad and when you’re carrying a few bumps and knocks, your flexibility is affected.

“Ben can play in a number of positions, but he isn’t getting any younger so he needs more recuperation time from injury than some of the younger players.

“Our aim on Saturday is to play a high-intensity game, start really quickly, get some scores on the board early and see if Ashbourne can provide a reaction.”

Spalding failed to collect a bonus point at Melbourne last Saturday having failed to win by more than seven points.

It adds to the murky picture in Midlands Two East (N) where Spalding could end up having to play off against the runners-up in Midlands Two East (S) to decide who goes with up with the champions from each division.

Thomson said: “It would have been nice to get a bonus point at Melbourne, but if we were to win our last two games (Ashbourne and at home to Bakewell Mannerians on April 12, who knows what could happen. We have reasonable strength in depth and we’re looking to go to Ashbourne and winning there.”

If Spalding end the season behind Belgrave in second place, they face a single play-off match for promotion against the side finishing second in Midlands Two East (S) which is currently Newbold on Avon of Warwickshire.

Town are one point ahead of the Rugby-based side and whichever one of them finishes with the best playing record will win the rig to stage the play-off match.

Thomson said: “It’s almost a mental challenge at the moment, but I’m thoroughly confident that we can win both our remaining games.”

As well as Williams, Spalding will also be without back row man Josh Finch, but captain Harry Sharman returns to the side with a vote of confidence from his coach.

Thomson said: “Harry is a central figure who the other guys rally round.”