Stamford came to the Memorial Field on Saturday as league leaders with Spalding’s single victory leaving them one place off the bottom.
But with a strong wind blowing down the pitch, Spalding unwrapped a superb display of teamwork, commitment, discipline and tactical awareness against the best team they had played this season and came away with a superb win.
Having recovered from a hamstring injury at the start of the season, there was a welcome return for James West at fly-half and with scrum-half Will Shields suspended, the experienced Rob Lucas was in.
Lock Mikey Watts, having also recovered from injury, was starting and with a solid looking bench of Pete Waudby, Mark Heighton and Adam McHugh, new coach Bruno Figueirido led the pre-match warm-up in front of a crowd boosted by the confident Stamford supporters.
The match was only two minutes old as both teams were getting used to the conditions when Stamford infringed at a breakdown on the halfway line.
West immediately stepped up for the penalty kick, electing to go for the posts and with the strong wind assisting, the ball sailed over for an early lead.
Both teams demonstrated the commitment and support play with not a tackle being missed that a derby normally brings.
But greater discipline was being shown by Spalding and Stamford started to suffer as the referee awarded penalties against them for back-chat and two long-range penalty kicks by West increased the home advantage.
Stamford responded with a good backs move releasing their left-winger to go over in the corner but soon their scrum-half was yellow-carded.
The Spalding axis of Lucas and West were intelligently using the wind to kick for territory to keep the pressure on the visitors.
Both Jordan Templer and Harry Sharman at the line outs were challenging on the opposition ball and with the wind making life difficult for the throwing in, pressure continued to mount.
Ryan Chappell, playing in the back row, saw yellow for dissent and although Spalding’s scrum came under great pressure with a man short, further penalties came Spalding’s way and by half-time six successful penalties resulted in a lead of 18-5.
McHugh came off the bench, replacing George Brown at outside centre, and it was Spalding’s turn to face the stiff wind.
The forwards drove the ball forward, setting up a ruck and picking and driving again.
Watts was showing the way and the front row of Kier Moore, Sam Cooke and Sam Cowell were also putting in some tremendous guard defence tackles as Stamford using their forwards tried to break through.
Finally Stamford created an overlap on the right-hand side and they were over for their second try and with the benefit of a successful penalty the score line read 18-15 with over 20 minutes remaining.
The response from the Spalding team was outstanding. With great unity and support play by everybody in a Spalding shirt and in stark contrast to Stamford very few kickable penalties were conceded in the contact areas.
Lucas, having twisted his knee, left the field and Sharman switched to scrum-half with Heighton, off the bench, taking up his normal lock position.
Moore, having run himself into the ground, was also replaced at prop by Waudby.
Spalding’s confidence was growing and in the backs Shaun Williams, at inside centre having given an outstanding display of defence tackling, was finding some space for the backs to counter-attack in support of the forwards.
The match was in the balance and Stamford with just a few minutes to go pressed down the left wing.
George Douglas, covering back, put in a decisive tackle which released the ball to full-back Josh Broome.
With a burst of pace he was down the wing and as the cover defence came in, a kick infield and the ball was fumbled by Stamford on their 22-metre line.
Spalding’s flankers were immediately up and tackling as the home forwards drove the ball ever closer to the try line. With space running out the ball found its way to left-winger Kieran Lake to squeeze over the try line inside the corner flag.
West stepped up for a superb conversion into the wind with only one minute left on the clock.
Spalding: Moore, Cooke, Cowell, Templer, Watts, Chappell, Sharman, H Brown, Lucas, West, Lake, Williams, G Brown, Douglas, Broome. Subs: Waudby, Heighton, McHugh.