PHOTO GALLERY: Derby delight at Spalding
An absolute thriller saw Spalding secure a bonus point win to preserve their unbeaten home league record.
This local derby certainly lived up to expectations for the supporters on Saturday.
A hatful of excellent tries put Spalding in control by half-time until Kesteven launched a valiant fightback as the home side were left clinging to their lead with some desperate defence in the last 10 minutes.
Following selection problems the previous week, Spalding were able to muster a front row.
Harry Cole stepped up to fill one of the prop positions for the first time, Josh Caley came back in the team at hooker and with regular prop Kev Hudson plus Mark Haighton and Ryan Chappell called up, they looked to be in good shape to take on the Black Army.
It did not take long for the visitors' defence to be caught napping as the ball was spread wide to right-winger Ben Shields. With a burst of speed and a couple of side steps, he was through and smartly touching down near the posts for Willis Ingleby to convert.
Kesteven settled into their game plan using the forwards to good effect. After Spalding won the first couple of scrums, the visitors started to have an upper hand and the forwards bundled over the line to open their account.
Enjoying more of the possession, the visitors were again deep in Spalding’s 22 and a poorly defended ruck in front of the posts allowed Kesteven's scrum-half to nip in under the posts.
With a quarter of an hour gone, Kesteven had a seven-point lead.
The game started to ebb and flow but Spalding were gaining more possession with their backs starting to have an influence.
Fly-half Ingleby made a couple of good breaks and Gav Sharman on the left wing was beating the first tackler but Kesteven’s defence held firm.
It fell to Shields to repeat his earlier effort as again his speed and agility saw him slice open Kesteven’s defence on the right wing with Ingleby converting for a two-point advantage.
Kesteven responded from the kick-off, pinning Spalding back deep in their half.
Spalding’s defensive tackling was called upon and with scrum-half Will Shields receiving a yellow card, Kesteven kicked the penalty for a one-point lead.
Although a man down, Spalding's best form of defence was attack - spreading the ball away from the forwards and the reward quickly came with Harry Sharman forcing his way over.
Ed Booth came off the bench for Tom Wilson and within a couple of minutes, captain Dan Adams at inside centre took a pass from Ingleby - breaking the cover defence for an unconverted try.
With Ben Shields retaining the scrum-half position, Wilson was back on instead of Will Shields returning with Booth moving to the wing.
Spalding were in full flow and Harry Sharman went in for his second try of the afternoon just before the half-time whistle to make it 29-15.
However, Kesteven started the second half with a try from their number eight running through a couple of poor tackles and game was back on.
Spalding’s back row caused problems for Kesteven throughout the game and Ash Ankar’s strength took him over the line for a converted try with the lead widening to 14 points.
Kesteven were still looking for an upset and again it was their number eight who broke through for a converted try.
Their cause was not helped when one of their forwards was yellow-carded but five minutes later Harry Sharman also received a yellow and for the final 10 minutes Spalding were a forward short.
The visitors piled on the pressure and dominated.
Coach George Reid sent on Jason Steels and the returning Will Shields as fresh legs were need to replace Tim Waltham and Ben Shields.
Brave defence was called upon as Kesteven, with all the possession, were pounding away within metres of Spalding’s try line.
A penalty for holding on and a turnover by Ingleby saw Spalding through at the end of a thrilling but tense match.