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RUGBY UNION: Blank for Spalding in away defeat


Spalding’s long trip into the unknown ended in a heavy defeat on Saturday.

They have not met Buxton in living memory with the home team playing for many years in the Manchester District League.

But perhaps the writing was on the wall for a tough afternoon in the Peak District.

After a three-hour journey with a few regular players missing through injury and unavailability, they arrived at a ground shrouded in mist with rain falling that persisted all throughout the game and with its pitches being situated at the highest altitude in England.

Spalding started with the assistance of the wind and rain on a playing surface in remarkably good condition.

From the early encounters a pattern of play was established as the team with the better execution in the forwards would be winning the day and the backs being called upon sparingly.

Conall Mason was making his first start at fly-half, Will Shields returning to his regular scrum-half position following a statutory break for concussion, Dan Adams switching to full-back and Ben Shields on the left wing in place of Gav Sharman.

Buxton forwards, although held in the scrum, started to make regular surges deep into Spalding territory using their heavy but mobile back row to carry the ball.

For the opening 20 minutes, resolute Spalding defence held their line before the opening try was scored followed by a penalty kick.

With the wind gusting downfield, throwing in at the lineouts was tricky but John Barrett soon mastered the art and had a particularly good game.

Luke Turner and Ash Piccaver were in the thick of things all afternoon and with captain Richard Cooke leading by example with the highest tackle count, it was not until shortly before half-time that Buxton extended their lead to 15 points with an unconverted try.

Turning to face an uphill battle into the rain and wind, with Buxton on a charge, courage and determination by the Spalding players was called upon.

Unexpectedly for the first t10 minutes of the second half Spalding dominated and only poor execution with their pick and drives around the breakdown denied an opening try.

Another surge up field saw Spalding have field position five metres from the line and a charge by Harry Cole was denied by a couple of inches.

The home team came alive and turned on their forward power, adding more points.

Every time Spalding made territory, especially led by Ash Anker at the base of the scrum, Buxton pinned them back.

Spalding: Hudson, Barrett, Reid, Piccaver, Turner, Cole, Cooke, Anker, W Shields, Mason, B Shields, Wilson, Berry, Capes, Adams.

Meanwhile, Bourne won 30-10 at Gainsborough in the RFU Midlands Junior Vase second round as Deepings lost 24-19 at Mellish.


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