Midlands One East - Spalding 5 Old Northamptonians 43
Rock-bottom Spalding suffered their 22nd league defeat of the season as the search goes on for a first win.
They entertained Old Northamptonians on Saturday at the Memorial Field.
Earlier in the season Spalding had suffered a 95-0 defeat at the visitors’ home ground and ONs were now lying second in Midlands One East hunting for that play-off place for promotion to National Three from which they had been relegated the previous season.
Making welcome returns to the first team were Ed Duerden at flanker and Ollie Phillips playing fly-half, allowing captain Ryan Chappell to revert to his normal inside centre position. Will Shields had grabbed back the No 9 shirt from Richard Cooke and Chris Douglas, back home from university, was on the right wing.
The match did not start well for Spalding as no soon had they got onto the pitch for the kick-off, ONs quickly exposed Spalding’s left-hand defence and within the first minute the scoreboard was in action with the opening try scored by the visitors.
The omens were not good, however in their eagerness to capitalise on the early lead ONs gave away a series of penalties – allowing Phillips to kick to touch and settle into the role.
ONs scrum-half Robbie Aitchson was prominent either feeding the ball quickly to his forwards, running onto the ball gaining metres over the gain line or spreading the ball out to the fly-half Goody Goodman.
Spalding were penalised for not releasing at a ruck and with a dominant pack had the confidence to go for a scrum rather than a penalty kick and slipped the ball to the fly-half who found a gap in the Spalding defence and was under the posts for a converted try.
Spalding responded with their forwards gaining territory with Duerden and Harry Brown repeatedly getting through the first tackle.
Another penalty given away by ONs allowed Phillips to kick to touch on the five metres for a lineout. A clear take in the lineout by Tom Duerden set up the driving maul but was held up over the line. The home team continued to press but ONs’ defence was well drilled and on the half hour a Spalding pass was intercepted and the visitors had a breakaway try.
During the last ten minutes of the first half the visitors has the upper hand and from a lineout a driving maul could not be stopped by Spalding for a lead of 24-0.
With the resumption after half-time Spalding went asleep for the opening minutes.
The Spalding kick-off did not go 10 metres. From the scrum ONs broke through poor cover defence down the wing and within the first minute a try had been scored.
ONs pressed again and Spalding were penalised for not releasing in the tackle. A quickly-taken penalty had Spalding’s defence in disarray and a grubber kick through was touched down for a converted try and 12 points had been conceded in the three opening minutes.
Steadily the home team regained their composure assisted by a series of penalties given away by the visitors which enabled them to gain territory and press in the visitors’ half.
A quick tap and go by Phillips set up the forwards to drive forward and Ash Piccaver touched down for a well-taken unconverted try.
Within two minutes ONs responded with a line break for a converted try.
With just over 20 minutes to play the large home crowd were contemplating a Spalding collapse and the visitors racking up the points.
Coach Ben Williams came off the bench to replace Sam Cooke and with his experience Spalding tightened up possession and ONs found it difficult to win any clean ball.
ONs were now infringing and in the last 15 minutes the count was five penalties and free kicks to Spalding and none against, which speaks volumes for the home team’s commitment even though relegation looms.
Spalding: Waudby, Cooke, Caley, Piccaver, T Duerden, Richardson, E Duerden, Brown, Shields, Phillips, Lane, Chappell, Gosling, C Douglas, Broome, Seconde, Williams.