RUGBY UNION: Opening day defeat for Spalding
If Spalding were thinking that life would be easier following relegation then they need to quickly think again.
Within the first minute, they had a scrum on the halfway line following a miscued kick by Belper.
Young Ben Shields making his first start at scrum-half – with his brother Will sidelined through concussion – fed the scrum and immediately Belper drove back the forwards, turning over the ball.
Breaking free down the left wing and a kick through, the home team were five points up from the first phase of play.
Spalding came back strongly with the forwards taking the initiative with their pick and drives and a kick through saw them level the score.
The game was ebbing and flowing with Spalding concentrating their play within the pack, trying to punch a way through Belper’s defence.
However, the home team were up to the task and as soon as possession was turned over they capitalised – running in two tries for a half-time lead of 19-5.
New first team captain Richard Cooke lead the team talk, emphasizing the need for Spalding to step up their game as the match was still winnable.
However within the first couple of minutes it was Belper who threatened with their forwards making good ground and a knock on by Spalding saw a scrum to the opposition 10 metres from the try line.
Belper secured possession and their scrum-half went over easily for a converted try.
Initial possession for Spalding was still a problem with their scrum always under pressure.
Lineout possession was also disappointing with Ash Piccaver struggling at the front but Ash Anker in the middle of the lineout was going well.
Ball out to the backs was disappointingly limited, as Spalding continued their unproductive ploy of using the forwards to gain territory.
Centres Dan Adams and George Brown made ground with limited possession but Spalding, with perhaps two of the fastest wingers in the league with Gav Sharman and debutant Ashton Capes, were starved of the ball throughout the game.
Likewise George Douglas at fullback took the high ball well under pressure but with so little ball going out to the backs, he never had the opportunity to show his pace in attack.
By contrast the Belper fullback was having a field day in the second half as he joined in attack at will with devastating pace and set up their fifth try in the corner.
The spirit could not be faulted within the Spalding ranks as they battled back and attempted to mount a late comeback.
For a period of 20 minutes Spalding were encamped in Belper’s half.
Exerting pressure on the try line, they were denied several scoring opportunities by a series of infringements with the referee finally issuing a yellow card.
Capitalising on the man down, Spalding’s forwards got their solitary reward for their efforts with Piccaver going over at pace for a converted try.
However, having scored, Spalding unaccountably switched off at the restart and Belper ran in unopposed under the posts for the final score and a deserved win for the home team.
Spalding: Hudson, Rollinson, Barrett, Piccaver, Berry, Cooke, Cole, Anker, B Shields, Capes, Adams, Brown, Sharman, Douglas, Mclaren.