At the start of the season, with expectations high, Spalding had travelled to Kesteven looking to start their campaign with an away win but were edged out 16-15 in a match that should have been won.
With only one win so far this season, Saturday’s return fixture was a must-win to kick-start a revival to escape relegation while the visitors were looking to strengthen their position.
Before Christmas, Spalding had been ravaged by injuries, unavailability and a virus when they travelled to Ashbourne but they took to the field with most of their regular squad players back in action.
The opening exchanges were even with both teams probing for any weaknesses but after 10 minutes Spalding were caught not releasing in a tackle and the opening penalty kick was slotted over by Kesteven.
Fly-half James West was using his tactical awareness and a kick over the top was followed up by left wing Adam Castle who was held up just short of the try line.
On the half-hour Spalding opened their score.
With a lineout won by Mark Haighton, the ball was moved swiftly along the backs and Castle burst through the middle – going under the posts with West converting the try.
The lead, however, was short-lived.
A pass from a ruck between Will Shields and Harry Winch went astray and Kesteven kicked through to the in-goal area.
The chase was won by the centre, with a controversial touchdown, to restore the three-point lead.
Winger Mark Elsey strained his hamstring and was replaced by Gav Sharman but Spalding were starting to struggle to impose any hold on the game and the half time-whistle provided the opportunity to regroup.
However it was Kesteven who seized the initiative in the second half.
Spalding were not helping themselves with the number of avoidable penalties being conceded, such as offside at the breakdown and not releasing, which handed territory and possession to the visitors.
This resulted in sustained pressure from Kesteven and they reaped their reward with a converted try 15 minutes into the second half.
Frustration was showing with Spalding’s tactics not working, being beaten to the breakdown, and too many times the wrong options being taken by some of the forwards resulting in turnover ball.
Meanwhile, two of the fastest wingers in the league were being starved of the ball and West, who has an excellent kicking game and would have relieved much of the pressure, was not being used.
Ash Piccaver was shown a yellow card for illegally trying to stop a Kesteven maul and they capitalised on their one-man advantage with a further converted try to seal victory.
This was a disappointing performance from the home team and it is going to take a miracle for them to avoid relegation.
Spalding: Watts, Cowell, Caley, Turner, Haighton, Turner, Duerden, Piccaver, H Brown, Shields, Elsey, Winch, G Brown, Castle, G Douglas. Subs Barrett, G Sharman, C Douglas.