Midlands One East: Bedford Athletic 91 Spalding 0
When Spalding last played Bedford Athletic four years ago they suffered a pasting with a score just one short of a century of points.
And with them going well this season having previously been in National Three North everybody was aware that this would be yet another tough fixture for the visitors.
Again there were changes to the side. Oz Osborne was making his first start of the season at prop and there were also welcome returns for Ed Deurden at No.6 and Mark Heighton at lock.
The experienced pairing of Ben Williams at scrum-half and Rob Lucas at fly-half plus the return from injury of Sion Williams at inside centre looked like Spalding were starting this match on a solid footing.
From the kick-off the early exchanges were encouraging with Spalding being competitive with a secure scrum and at the breakdowns, exchanges were fairly even.
But after 10 minutes the ball was fed through the Bedford three-quarters out to their left-winger whose side-step and pace took him into the corner for the opening try.
Spalding came back at Bedford with the forwards prominent with their pick and drives around the rucks with Alex Ioannou and Tom Deurden prominent.
Spalding’s lineout was also going well with Jos Caley throwing in and successfully finding either Tom Deurden, Tim Waltham or Ed Duerden.
Ben Williams, who had earlier picked up a dead leg and soldiered on, had to leave the field after 25 minutes with Will Shields moving to his preferred position, Brian Browne moving from the wing to full back and Will Moore coming off the subs bench on the wing.
Bedford immediately took advantage from a loose kick and went in for their second try.
The intensity and pace of the match meant that Jacob Hutson replaced Osborne in the front row as Bedford were starting to open up Spalding’s three-
quarter defence with both their full-back Ben Johnson and left-winger Tom Dolemore showing how to find room and finish and at half-time Bedford were 36 points up.
In the second half Bedford were determined to rattle up as many points as possible in their pursuit of a top-of-the-table position by the end of the
season and Ben Johnson and Tom Dolemore in particular enjoyed a good day with both claiming five tries each by the end of the match.
After 65 minutes the referee pulled his hamstring and a substitute referee was found from another match for the last 15 minutes.
During this period Sion Williams made a couple of good breaks and was denied only at the last minute by some excellent tackling, which illustrated Spalding character and determination to keep going.
Sam Cooke, captain in the absence of Ryan Chappell, showed good leadership throughout and was well supported the experienced players on the park.
Ed Duerden was Spalding’s man of the match and colt Nicholas Eggleton, who played the whole match, had an encouraging debut.
Spalding: Ioannou, Caley, Osborne, T Deurden, Haighton, Waltham, Richardson, E Duerden, B Williams, Lucas, Eggleton, S Williams, Cooke, Browne, Shields, Hutson, Moore