Spalding lost a game they seemed destined to win as Loughborough showed why they are top of Midlands Two East (North) with a come-from-behind 17-14 win at Memorial Field yesterday.
First-half tries by Elephants’ number eight Ash Piccaver and Bourne Grammar School sixth-former Adam Castle, playing on the right wing for Spalding, were both converted by fly half James West.
But a stirring second half comeback by Boro, the platform for which was laid by a penalty by winger Thomas Kirkby, saw James Busby touch down early and Steven Sands take a pass from a scrum, beat two tackles and run 50 metres to hand Spalding a gut-wrenching home loss.
Bruno Figueiredo, Town’s first XV coach, said: “We played well and the players gave everything on the pitch, but we lost the game after giving away some penalties and made mistakes.
“In the first half, we dominated for 30 minutes and Loughborough played for just the last ten minutes.
“But unfortunately in the second half, the last try killed the game.”
We put in such a shift but it seems to be the case that we put a performance in for one half, then we’re camped on our line for half an hour before one mistake costs us the gameHarry Winch, Spalding RFC 1st XV captain
Spalding were up against it before the game started with captain Harry Brown, vice captain Tom Duerden, centre Gorge Brown and flanker Ryan Chappell all out.
Harry Winch, who took the captain’s role, said: “We put in such a shift but it seems to be the case that we put a performance in for one half, then we’re camped on our line for half an hour before one mistake costs us the game.
“But we came away with a bonus point, we concentrated as a team and we didn’t let ourselves down at all.”
James West, who converted both of Spalding’s tries, said: “We just couldn’t keep hold of the ball but Loughborough had to really raise their game and play as well as they had to.
“We have to respect that, but I thought we defended extremely well and only conceded the points after having spent 50 minutes in our own half.”
The other plus for Spalding, apart from the losing bonus point for keeping the margin of defeat to within seven points, was the performance of Castle who even earned the respect of his opposite number on the Loughborough side, Thomas Kirkby, after the teenager tackled him into touch.
Castle said: “I thought I was going to get the first try but when I ran through, I offloaded the ball for Ash Piccaver to score.
“Then when I did score, I saw the opportunity and then sprinted as fast as I could after I shot out of the line.
“In the second half, Loughborough came out firing and I thought we were a bit complacent, thinking the game was in the bag.
“It was a tough game and although it was a shame about the final result, the defence was outstanding.”
Castle earned praise from both Figueiredo and West who said: “Adam is a very confident player with the ball, he has quick feet and is exactly the sort of player we need in the team.
“We have a history of bringing 17 to 18-year-olds into the team and they tend to thrive on it.”
Figueiredo added: “It was Adam’s third game in the first team, playing on the wing, and he did well.”
Castle said: “I knew at the start of the season that I wanted to play senior rugby and in my mind, I made that priority this season.”