RUGBY: Town leave it late to grab vital victory

TOP TUSSLE: Spalding edged Saturday's clash. Photo: ADRIAN SMITH
TOP TUSSLE: Spalding edged Saturday's clash. Photo: ADRIAN SMITH
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SPALDING RFC 27 DRONFIELD RFC 15: A fantastic final ten minutes saw Spalding RFC come from behind to secure a potentially pivotal bonus-point victory over Dronfield on Saturday.

Having trailed 15-5 at half time and 13-15 in the closing stages, title-chasing Town were staring down the barrel at a third Midlands Two East (North) defeat on the bounce.

But they turned it around to haul themselves level with rivals Belgrave at the top of the table and keep their dreams of promotion back to Midlands One East very much on track.

Spalding started pretty well and were soon putting pressure on the Dronfield defence – but they were punished when an intercepted pass by the visitors took play deep into the Spalding half. Although the centre was pursued by the Town three quarters, he was able to touch down – leaving a simple conversion to make it 7-0 after four minutes.

Town bounced back almost instantly, though. Ryan Chappell cut inside to link with Jay Harwood and take the ball within ten yards of the line. Spalding won the scrum and, after some strong defensive play from the visitors, Harry Sharman used his strength and guile to breach their line and score. The conversion failed, but Town were back in the game.

Spalding then thought they’d gone ahead when prop Alex Ioannou crashed over, only to be judged to have not touched down.

Their mood then worsened when Dronfield dispatched a 22-yard penalty to add to their score, before another costly interception allowed their centre to race 70 yards from one end to the other for their second try.

The conversion went wide, but Spalding were left scratching their heads at the half-time scoreline after bossing most of the first period.

Within two minutes of the second period they were back in it, though. After winning a lineout, the ball found its way to Chappell, who breezed through the away defence unopposed for an unconverted try.

Now camped in the Dronfield 22, Town moved within two points of their rivals when James West buried a penalty in front of the posts.

That’s how it stayed up until the final ten minutes, when Town finally got the rewards their performance deserved.

First, Andy Lal gathered the ball from a Dronfield drop and tapped ahead. Using his speed, the winger raced through to touch down for his side’s third try, which West converted to move Spalding 20-15 ahead.

Not done there, they notched a game-clinching try soon after. From a scrum on the 22 metre line the hosts drove for the line, with Ioannou and Josh Finch – who was credited with the score – both going over together.

West duly converted to put the seal on a hugely important Spalding success.

Spalding RFC: Harry Sharman (captain), Alex Ioannou, Jacob Harwood, Pete Waudby, Andy Hoyles, Tim Waltham, Josh Finch, Ed Duerden, Rob Lucas, James West, George Brown, Ryan Chappell, Harry Harrison, Andy Lal, Adam McHugh, Josh Caley, Tom Duerden and Ben Williams.

• Saturday: Kesteven v Spalding RFC (2.15pm).