Critical mistakes at key moments were all that separated Spalding from a win on the opening day of the league season at home to Coalville on Saturday.
The continuous rain at Memorial Field put paid to any thoughts of a repeat of Town’s 66-7 annihilation of the Leicestershire side, at the same venue, on the final day of last season.
That and the fact of visiting coach Ian Hickin making 11 changes to the side that were routed at Memorial Field nearly five months ago.
With the disappointment of their NLD Shield defeat at Sleaford to the forefront of their minds, Spalding started the game with a determination to be mean in defence.
Led by locks Jordan Templer and Tom Duerden, Town gave Coalville nothing in the opening stages, the only exception having been a missed Will Keeling penalty from 20 metres out because of offside.
Coalville did go ahead with their next penalty though, George Blackburn slotting over after another offside by the Elephants.
Harry Harrison very nearly got to a James West kick forward to ground in the Coalville in-goal area before the home side were let off twice, firstly when a try from Coalville rolling maul was cancelled out for a forward pass and, immediately afterwards, when Town held out against a five-metre scrum.
Then came the most electrifying moment of the entire match for Spalding as Harry Harrison went on an 80-metre sprint down the right, only to slip and lose his footing inside the Coalville 22, with the Elephants’ first home try of the season beckoning.
James West had already kicked a penalty to level the match at 3-3 by that point.
But just minutes before the break, Will Keeling broke through the Spalding forward line to score underneath the posts and converted his own try.
Everybody filled their boots and the players stuck to the game plan so whilst I’m disappointed with the result, I’m pleased with the performanceGeorge Reid, head coach, Spalding RFC
Shortly after the restart, the visitors could have been 13-3 ahead but for another Keeling penalty miss which Spalding took advantage of through another West penalty to bring them within four points of their opponents.
Unfortunately for Spalding head coach George Reid, blind-side flanker Marc Miles and centre Harry Winch, all three making their Memorial Field bow for Town, that was as close as teh Elephants would get.
A converted try by Coalville’s Mike Richmond, inside the last quarter of the game, was the final and decisive score that condemned Spalding to a losing start in the league this season.
SPALDING: Moore, Cowell, Caley, Templer, Duerden, Miles, Chappell, H. Brown (captain), Shields, West, T. Winch, H. Winch, G. Brown, H. Harrison, B. Williamson. Subs: Watts, Finch, G. Sharman.
COALVILLE: Moretta, Rotstein, B. Grant, Quail, J. Grant, Rumming, Freer, Tang, Savory, Blackburn, Wykes, Upton-Burton, Keeling, Nelson, Griffin. Subs: Flanagan, Smith, Richmond.
REFEREE: David Hurst.
STAR MAN: Ryan Chappell - Perfect ally for captain Harry Brown in defence.
WHO’S NEXT: Kesteven (A), Midlands Two East (North), next Saturday.
In Midlands Four East (South), Bourne started life in the league under head coach Dave Maudsley with an improbable 13-7 win at Thorney today.
Improbable as the self-styled “Finest sports club in Lincolnshire (probably)” were without six first-team players and had to come from behind to do it.
Meanwhile, Deepings weren’t so fortunate with a 33-17 defeat at Sileby Town where ex-Spalding under-17 centre Fraser Leiper made his senior debut for the Green Machine.