RUGBY: Town’s survival bid will go down to wire

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LOUGHBOROUGH RFC 1st 27 SPALDING RFC 1st 5: TOWN’S Midlands One East status is hanging by a thread after they failed to secure survival at Loughborough on Saturday.

Just three points separate the bottom four ahead of the final day of the season on Saturday – but Spalding know that a win with maximum points will see them safe.

With a strong wind at their back and the slope of the pitch in their favour during the first half, the visitors failed to capitalise on their advantage against a side they would have leapfrogged with a win.

Loughborough opened the scoring when a scrum in the middle of the pitch resulted in their fly-half galloping clear before passing back inside to his centre to touchdown for a converted score.

A breakaway score then put the hosts 10-0 up after 22 minutes, leaving Town with it all to do.

To their credit, Spalding then enjoyed their best period of play, with skipper Harry Sharman leading the charge.

He made a break on the right hand side before passing to winger Kevin Childs, who was stopped just shy of the line. But Town did register a score soon after, Ed Duerden using his strength and guile to take him cleverly over the line.

The conversion missed – as did a late penalty before half time, making it 10-5 to the hosts at the break.

Although Town’s resistance was strong against the elements in the second period, Loughborough extended their lead 15 minutes in.

Spalding did come close to scoring with Ash Anker and Sharman charging forward before being stopped and Tom Duerden leading an offensive on the home side’s try line, but it just wasn’t to be.

Loughborough, who intercepted the ball after a promising-looking Town attack, then raced clear to score another converted score and effectively put the game to bed.

The conversion made it 17-5 to them, with another penalty soon after securing a 15-point cushion.

Another infringement by Spalding then allowed Loughborough to kick deep into their 22 metre area.

Town cleared their lines, but not far enough, and the Loughborough side once again found space and pace to cross for their fourth try and bonus point.

There is still time for Spalding to survive, but they’ll need guile and effort galore to take maximum points this weekend. Third-placed Ilkeston could prove to be a very tall order, though.

Town: Harry Sharman (captain), Dan Gibbons, Jacob Harwood, Fraser Welsh, Mark Haighton, Tom Duerden, Ash Anker, Harry Brown, Ed Duerden, Jim Williams, Kevin Childs, Ryan Chappell, Ben Williamson, Dan Adams, Rob Lucas, Craig Dowse, George Brown, Adam Mchugh.

Saturday: Town v Ilkeston (3pm).