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PHOTO GALLERY: All-square at Spalding but missed kicks make the difference




With two points for a draw, Spalding moved up to fourth place with a game in hand.

They took to the field having not played for over a month while Belper were full of confidence with a formidable pack having dominated in their recent matches.

So it was no surprise that the visitors controlled much of the first half.

A minute's silence for Clive Benson, captain of Spalding in the early 70s, who passed away just before Christmas
A minute's silence for Clive Benson, captain of Spalding in the early 70s, who passed away just before Christmas

However, Spalding had an early opportunity to take the lead with Belper offending at the breakdown but a relatively simple penalty kick was put wide by Willis Ingelby.

Tackling and defensive duties were the order of the day with Tim Waltham and Harry Sharman leading the way in the forwards and captain Dan Adams alongside Tom Wilson closing Belper’s backs down.

Strong running around the breakdown area with successful offloads gained territory for Belper with Spalding being forced into defending their line on several occasions.

Finally at a ruck 10 metres out from the posts, Spalding’s defence was non-existent and the visitors ran unopposed for the opening try. With a simple conversion, a seven-point lead was well deserved.

Belper also had good running backs and with plenty of possession, they were starting to show their pace.

Ash Anker took a knock to his shoulder and was replaced by George Berry in the forwards

Belper missed a penalty kick and shortly afterwards their outside centre was yellow-carded.

With a kick to touch and a successful lineout, Spalding drove the maul towards the line but lost possession.

With a one-man advantage, Spalding kept pressing and finally the ball was moved out onto the left wing and Gav Sharman went over for an unconverted try.

With the half-time whistle there was just a two-point difference between the teams.

Coach George Reid made a complete reshuffle in the scrum, handing Belper an advantage at the set-piece, but increased Spalding’s threat around the park with Ryan Chappell coming into the back row.

Within a few minutes Jason Steels was also off the bench into the scrum with Waltham taking a knock.

Spalding started to impose their game on the visitors with play being mainly in their half but it was a tough physical battle in the forwards as George Berry made some effective carries and Harry Sharman was also prominent.

Spalding were looking to spread the ball wide to the wingers.

Full-back George Douglas was returning Belper’s kicks upfield with forceful runs and a try looked to be on with the last pass going astray just a yard from the line.

Belper edged further into the lead with 15 minutes left on the clock from a successful penalty.

By now the referee was starting to award penalties to Spalding with Belper disputing decisions.

Scrum-half Will Shields capitalised with quick tap penalties which started to bring rewards either gaining territory or a further penalty.

Sharman slid a precise grubber kick through and Will Shields dived over to level the scores with the conversion to come but again the kick was missed.

The last few minutes saw both teams going for the win but with no further score the match ended all-square.

Belper provided one of Spalding's toughest games this season with their ball-carrying forwards gaining decent territory but Spalding’s tackling was up to the challenge.

When the ball went wide Spalding were always the more dangerous side, with two tries scored and a few excellent opportunities going begging.

Spalding were also let down with no successful kicks which would have made the difference.



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