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Spalding Rugby Club are beaten by Luton in their Midlands 3 East (South) clash

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Spalding were hit by a strong first half showing from hosts Luton as they went down to a 29-12 defeat in Saturday’s Midlands 3 East (South) clash.

The Elephants found themselves trailing by 24 points at the interval before rallying after the break and out-scoring their hosts in the second period.

It was the first time in 15 years that these two teams had met since their last league matches when both clubs were in the old Midlands One.

Since those dizzy heights, Spalding have drifted down the leagues and now Luton are also playing in Midlands 3 East (South).

The visitors had Jacob Greaves returning to fray in the front row while at blindside flanker was Alan Charevicious making his first team debut after impressing during the pre-season match at Fakenham.

The early exchanges saw Luton controlling territory using their experienced front row to carry the ball while making Spalding call on their defensive abilities.

However, after 10 minutes, Luton used their forwards to good effect and there was a bit of nothing between centre George Brown and the home number six that saw the referee pull out his yellow card and send the Spalding player to the sidelines.

The initial offence had been for not releasing in the tackle and Luton converted the penalty kick.

At the breakdown, Spalding were struggling to adapt to the way the referee was interpreting the laws, giving plenty of possession to Luton who took advantage.

Using their backs, the ball was worked to their left wing where a pass back inside to a supporting player saw the first try scored.

Within a couple of minutes, again using their backs to create space, Luton’s lock was scoring under the posts and the hosts had 17 points on the board after 17 minutes of the match.

Spalding were battling to stay in the game but Will Shields was going well at the line-out with Ash Anker throwing in and Connor Lilburn to the fore with his carries.

But when Spalding had possession in Luton’s twenty-two they came away without scoring and the hosts capitalised just before half-time as a missed tackle saw them under the posts again for an interval lead of 24

The start of the second half saw Spalding staring at a heavy defeat as Luton used pick and drives by their forwards and their scrum half dived through the remaining defence for an unconverted try.

Two further drives over the line by Luton saw Spalding bravely defending as the ball was held up and turnovers created with the new drop goal clearance by the defending team.

Luton were again on the attack but a dropped ball saw Callum Lewis, now on for Brown, kick it through and downfield. Centre Gav Sharman picked up and outpaced everybody to score under the posts for fly-half Conall Mason to convert.

Harry Cole was then yellow-carded for not retreating 10 metres at a tapped penalty on the halfway line resulting in the scrums going uncontested with Greaves having also been replaced by Tom Parker in the front row.

Spalding were now showing their speed in the backs as left winger Lewis had a stunning run past half-a-dozen Luton players before being brought down while on the other wing Ben Shields was finding some room.

It was a deep territory kick by Mason which saw centre James Luto gather and, with a delightful pass, put Sharman in open space a few metres from the line to score with Mason’s conversion kick hitting the posts.

This was not a classic by any imagination, with the tackle and ruck area throughout the match a bit of a nightmare for Spalding, unlike the previous week, but to their credit they battled back in the second half despite suffering their second away loss of the season.

Spalding: Jacob Greaves, Harry Cole, Luke Turner, Macalay Crane, Connor Lilburn, Alan Charevicious, Will Shields, Ash Ankar, Adam Sutcliffe, Conall Mason, Ben Shields, George Brown, Gav Sharman, James Luto, George Douglas. Subs: Tom Parker, Callum Lewis.

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