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Spalding are benefiting from consistent team selection, reckons 1st XVs vice captain




Spalding vice captain Will Shields believes that a consistent line-up is the secret behind his side's high-scoring exploits in Midlands Three East (South) over recent weeks.

The Elephants have won their last three matches at Memorial Field, against Queens, Daventry and St Neots respectively, by a combined score of 190-19.

Crowds at Memorial Field have seen Spalding score a total of 32 tries this month, a quarter of which were run in by Shields and player-coach Harry Sharman between them.

Spalding vice captain Will Shields in action against Daventry at Memorial Field.
Photo by Tim Wilson.SG-080220-065TW.
Spalding vice captain Will Shields in action against Daventry at Memorial Field. Photo by Tim Wilson.SG-080220-065TW.

"We've had two 70-plus points wins this month so it's been a bad home run," Shields said.

"Playing at home helps, but we've also managed to put a very similar team out every week.

"We do seem to be getting that continuity within the team so that there aren't many changes made week on week.

Forward John Barrett got on the try sheet for Spalding against St Neots.Photo by Tim Wilson.SG-220220-081TW.
Forward John Barrett got on the try sheet for Spalding against St Neots.Photo by Tim Wilson.SG-220220-081TW.

"But we have changed a little bit of what we do in training, trying to have one really good session a week, rather than two.

"When we go in for training, everybody works really hard and that's allowed us to have more of a structure to playing in games, rather than doing things off the cuff."

Spalding's try machine is about to come up against sterrner tests in the coming weeks, with games against A151 rivals Bourne, Stamford and Dunstablians all to come between now and the end of March.

The tough run starts with the visit of Stockwood Park to Spalding on Saturday, a renewal of the two sides' encounter at the Luton-based club's London Road ground last November when Shields' team-mates pulled off an unlikely 24-20 victory.

Stockwood Park, in action against Bourne last September, visit Spalding's Memorial Field on Saturday.Photo by Alan Hancock.
Stockwood Park, in action against Bourne last September, visit Spalding's Memorial Field on Saturday.Photo by Alan Hancock.

Shields said: "Unfortunately, I missed part of the season through injury, including the Stockwood Park game.

"But I do know that we got a team together on the day who were pretty settled and it showed.

"Generally, we've not played too badly when we've hone away from home, although it's a challenge to get people to be available for away games.

Spalding player-coach Harry Sharman scored three tries against St Neots at Memorial Field on Saturday.Photo by Tim Wilson.SG-080220-082TW.
Spalding player-coach Harry Sharman scored three tries against St Neots at Memorial Field on Saturday.Photo by Tim Wilson.SG-080220-082TW.

"So when we've had poor performances away from home, it may have been as a result of that."

Shields had special praise for Sharman and fellow coach Ali Price who have together led the Elephants to sixth place in the table, along with a place in the Midlands Senior Vase and NLD (Notts, Lincs and Derbyshire) Shield semi-final.

"Harry knows his stuff and he's a very good rugby player, with a very good rugby head on his shoulders," Shields said.

"He gets his knowledge across to us well and both Harry and Ali have their ideas of how to take the team forward which we all support."


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