Spalding Rugby Club are beaten by Northampton Men’s Own in Midlands 3 East (South) clash
A three-try burst midway through the second half sent Spalding to defeat in Saturday’s Midlands 3 East (South) clash at Northampton Men’s Own.
The Elephants did produce a rousing finale to score two late tries of their own and earn the bonus point as they fell to their fourth defeat of the season following a 40-28 loss.
It was a clash of two teams lying towards the wrong end of the table, with Spalding travelling over to Northampton with a strengthened team that saw Ash Anker, Adam Sutcliffe, Gav Sharman and Taylor Crowson all returning while second team captain Richard Stevenson made his debut in the front row.
However, skipper Luke Turner, along with Will Shields, remained injured from last week and it was vice-captain George Brown who led Spalding out.
The opening minutes saw the home team start with more fluency on a good pitch and, after eight minutes from open play, Men’s Own moved the ball through their backs and the left winger was in at the corner.
Spalding’s forwards were gaining a slight upper hand in the scrums, allowing number eight Jason Steels, making a welcome return, to pick up at the base and feed centre Taylor Crowson just inside Men’s Own half.
Crowson cut loose and sped past the first tackler and in a flash a further three defenders were left in his wake by his speed and footwork to score an exceptional try which, with fly half Conall Mason converting to give Spalding had a slight advantage.
With the wind blowing down the pitch, Spalding had possession both from line-outs, with Steels successfully jumping at the front, and the scrums which were solid and secure.
Outside centre Harry Waine was making ground with his strong runs and lock Connor Lilburn was also carrying well into contact.
Full-back James Luto, having taken a knock, was replaced by Callum Lewis with Ben Shields moving to full-back as Spalding were unable to open up Men’s Own defence again before the half-time whistle.
The first few minutes of the second half unfortunately set the tone for Spalding, with Men’s Own kicking deep for territory and winning their line-out.
They moved the ball with confidence along their backs and a pass back inside cut Spalding’s defence with a converted try under the posts.
Shortly afterwards the home team’s backs were passing and moving the ball freely, scoring out on the right wing for a converted try.
Spalding’s response was to go back to basics with flanker Brown leading by example and being the first to the breakdown and inspiring the tightening of their defence.
Men’s Own, now starved of the ball, were left in disarray as Ash Anker with power and strength forced his way through several attempted tackles and scored under the posts.
With an easy conversion from Mason, there was just one try between the teams with 25 minutes to play.
However, the Men’s Own fly half now started to run the show with his distribution and kicking for territory.
During an eight-minute spell the home team were running and passing at speed with support players continuing the moves, and Spalding conceded three tries.
Many teams would have folded, but there is some spirit in this Spalding team.
Left wing Callum Lewis had a storming run to beat half-a-dozen defenders, while scrum half Adam Sutcliffe with a good quick pass to Mason and Ben Shields opened up a gap and a flowing move was finished off by Gav Sharman with a converted try.
Spalding were not finished as lock MaCaulay Crane with a strong carry was brought down by a high tackle.
The tap penalty with only seconds remaining saw Anker there with another strong carry as he dragged three tacklers over the try-line and Spalding had salvaged a try bonus point.
Spalding: Tom Parker, Miguel Da Silva, Richard Stevenson, Connor Lilburn , MaCauley Crane, Ash Anker, George Brown, Jason Steels, Adam Sutcliffe, Conall Mason, Gav Sharman, Taylor Crowson, Harry Waine, Ben Shields, James Luto. Subs: Callum Lewis, Fabian Simpson.
Spalding host bottom-of-the-table Bedford Queens on Saturday in a match at the New Ground on Drain Bank North due to some renovation work on the clubhouse at the Memorial Field. Matches now kick-off at the earlier start time of 2.15pm.