KETTERING RFC 34 SPALDING RFC 38: A storming first-half showing guided Town to a crucial away success on Saturday as they jumped out of the Midlands One East drop zone.
Spalding racked up an incredible 30-8 advantage by the interval, but ended up fighting for their lives as relegation rivals Kettering moved within a try of an unlikely comeback.
Club captain Harry Sharman heaped praise on his side after the massive victory – and backed his side to stave off the drop once again.
He said: “Great credit goes to the lads and we’ve really put ourselves in a position where we can look to stay up now.
“We went there with the best back row we’ve had all season, but it was the forwards who were totally dominant.
“Everything went right for us in the first half – and although that changed after the break, we dug in and got another crucial try.
“I thought young Callum Thomson was immense and probably my man-of-the-match, while Rob Lucas was really impressive again. He’s having his best season for us.”
After conceding three points to an early penalty, Town got themselves up and running when Kev Childs took the ball all the way up to the home 22. A drive for the line followed, with Ash Anker eventually touching down.
Hankinson added the conversion, but Spalding’s lead didn’t last long as poor tackling from the away side allowed Kettering in for an unconverted try in the corner.
That was to be the only blot on Town’s first-half copybook, though. A Hankinson penalty put them 10-8 ahead, then his boot added three more points following an incident that saw Anker leave the field with a dislocated shoulder.
A lineout led to Spalding’s second try, with Childs using his strength and guile to beat three defenders and score. Hankinson then added another conversion and a further penalty to make it 23-8.
Not done there, Town were awarded a penalty and kicked for touch. They won the ball and drove for the line, with skipper Sharman crossing the line for a well-deserved try.
Yet another Hankinson conversion gave Spalding a 22-point lead at the interval.
That was further extended three minutes in the second period when Hankinson added a penalty, but that was the calm before the storm.
A converted Kettering try under the posts made it 33-15, before a break from defence allowed the hosts another try with 15 minutes to go.
It got worse for Spalding as a lucky bounce allowed Kettering in for a third try of the half, this time converted.
The excellent Lucas nipped the comeback in the bud though, as he dummied the defence and broke to the blindside of the scrum to touchdown a crucial score.
Although Kettering bagged another try two minutes from time, Spalding had done enough for a pivotal win.
Spalding RFC: Harry Sharman (captain), Peter Waudby, Craig Dowse, Sam Cooke, Ash Anker, Callum Thomson, Ed Duerden, Harry Brown, Rob Lucas, Dave Hankinson, Kevin Childs, Ryan Chappell, Rhys Thomson, Harry Harrison, Ben Williamson, Jimmy Rowlands, Andy Hoyles and Harry Winch.
• Satuday: Towcestrians v Spalding.