RUGBY UNION: Lessons to learn after home defeat
After an uninspiring display on Saturday, Spalding became the first team to lose against Nottingham Moderns in the league this season.
The visitors arrived at the Memorial Ground with just two bonus points from eight matches while Spalding had started to string together a number of home wins.
The opening quarter of the match saw Spalding looking to gain superiority through the forwards.
The early indications were promising with a strong scrum allowing options for either Jason Steels at number eight to pick and break with the ball or Will Shields to pass comforably out to fly-half Willis Ingleby.
Moderns were forced into a series of defensive tackles and early on the opposition scrum-half was shown a yellow card for not rolling away.
With a man advantage, Spalding went looking for the opening try.
A further penalty was awarded 10 metres from the try line and with quick thinking Shields took a tap penalty and forced himself over the line with Ingleby converting.
With numbers restored, Moderns stepped up their game – looking to move the ball along their backs as they made inroads deep inside Spalding’s half. A missed tackle allowed their outside centre to glide in for an unconverted try.
Minutes later, a miss move orchestrated by Ingleby with his fellow backs went horribly wrong as Moderns pressed up and intercepted an intended pass to score under the posts for a converted try and the visitors had a five-point lead.
Captain Richard Cooke took a knock and came off for treatment with George Berry coming on.
Spalding started to lose their structure and team play.
Steels and Ash Piccaver made breaks with their forward play, but too often these were in isolation with no support to clear out at the tackle area and the ball ending up being turned over.
Spalding lineout was also started to misfire, losing their first phase possession but with the half-time whistle being blown, it was an opportunity to regroup.
Immediately from the restart, Spalding stepped up their pace and commitment and were soon threatening Moderns’ try line and from a ruck Cooke dived over with Ingleby converting for a two-point lead.
Moderns ran confidently with the ball, using their pace and exposing Spalding with winger Gav Sharman being left to defend a two-on-one and Moderns’ winger scored in the corner.
With a three-point deficit, Spalding had well over 20 minutes to turn the match around but the reality was that they never looked up to the job.
Spalding’s scrum was well on top but they could not turn this to their advantage as Moderns kicked well out of defence.
Brown and Dan Adams became fixated with crash ball moves – invariably taking the ball back inside into the laps of Moderns’ defence instead of looking for space and support on the outside.
Both Sharman and Ashton Capes, who have got pace to spare, hardly ever received a pass even with Adam McHugh bursting into the line to create an extra man.
Whether Spalding thought all they had to do was to turn up against the bottom team to chalk up a win – but they were taught a hard lesson on the day.They will need to considerably improve to climb away from the relegation zone.
Spalding: Hudson, Barrett, Greaves, Turner, Piccaver, Cole, Cooke, Steels, Shields, Ingleby, Sharman, Adams, Wilson, Capes, McHugh. Subs: Berry, Brown, Peters.