RUGBY UNION: Another away defeat for Spalding
Spalding are still searching for their first away win of the season after failing to take advantage of yellow and red cards.
Earlier in the season, Spalding had trounced Buxton at the Memorial Field - but since then, the Derbyshire side have won all their home games.
Spalding had the advantage of a strong wind blowing lengthways down the pitch and that old saying 'a game of two halves' was very apt.
However, Buxton soon showed that they were familiar with such conditions as they used their forwards to pick and drive forward or pop short passes to their inside centre to burst through initial tackles down the middle.
At the breakdown they were first to the ruck to protect the ball before recycling and for the first 20 minutes Spalding failed to get out of their own half.
Finally, with the aid of downfield kicks, Spalding threatened but Buxton’s strong forwards held firm.
The first indiscipline by the home team saw a punch being landed on Will Shields as he legally disrupted a ruck.
The referee instantly red-carded Buxton’s scrum-half and mysteriously yellow-carded Shields.
Spalding failed to drive home their advantage from 10 metres out and Buxton’s forwards immediately worked their way back up field with simple play, retaining the ball in tricky conditions.
After a succession of rucks on Spalding’s try line, pressure told and Buxton had their opening try.
Spalding sprung a surprise with a good tackle on a Buxton forward with the ball going loose. Scrum-half Ben Shields picked up and ran clear down the wing with the try converted by Willis Ingleby.
From the restart Spalding failed to clear the ball downfield and again Buxton’s forwards dominated the breakdown with their simple game plan and pressure finally brought its reward with their second try.
Having failed to pin Buxton down in their own half with the benefit of the strong wind, Spalding turned around at half-time with a three-point deficit and an uphill battle into the strong wind.
It was no surprise that within minutes of the restart, the home team were forcing the pace with their strong carries and ability to protect the ball as they recycled for the next phase.
Spalding were forced into making tackles as they steadily retreated. From a scrum on the five-metre line, Buxton forced their way over near the posts and with the conversion, the lead stretched out.
Buxton forwards reverted to using underhand tactics at the breakdown. Finally the referee became aware and another player was red-carded while Luke Turner was also dismissed for retaliation.
Passing and handling in the windy conditions was difficult throughout the game and a lost ball resulted in Buxton scoring their fourth try.
More unacceptable behaviour by a home player saw him yellow-carded when it should have been an automatic red.
With a two-man advantage and nearly 10 minutes remaining, Spalding had a chance to retrieve the day and Ed Booth on the right wing cut back inside top score.
Unfortunately, poor judgement and passing by Spalding’s fly-half saw too many passes not going to hand and opportunities were wasted.
One of Buxton’s stand-out forwards ran half the field, breaking a number of tackles to score the final try as the whistle was blown.
Spalding’s ability to fully understand and adapt their style of play to the conditions was the key difference between the teams.