RUGBY UNION: Positive start leads to home defeat

Spalding
Spalding
  • Midlands Two East (North) - Spalding 12 Ashbourne 38
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The final home game of the campaign brought another defeat for bottom-of-the-table Spalding.

With a single victory all season, a good crowd faithfully turned up – boosted by a coach load of players and parents on tour ahead of Sunday’s game with the under-12s.

As expected, Ashbourne started confidently but they were in for an early shock.

Spalding launched a counter-attack from inside their half but good tackling saw the ball lost deep in the visitors’ territory as Ashbourne tried to spin the ball out to their backs.

However, James West intercepted, juggled with the ball, smashed into the post protector and managed to ground the ball on the try line.

With James West kicking the conversion, Spalding had a seven-point lead after four minutes.

Mark Haighton and Kieran Bailey won their own lineout ball and West orchestrated moves in the backs which had not been seen in recent weeks, with George Brown featuring with strong runs or acting as a decoy.

But Ashbourne had the upper hand in the scrum and their pack carried the ball strongly.

With 25 minutes of good open rugby having been played, Spalding struck again.

The backs passed the ball out swiftly to Gav Sharman on the left wing and, showing plenty of pace down the wing as he rounded his opposite 
number, he was finally stopped a few metres short of the line. An excellent offload saw Jason Steels crash over and with a narrowly missed 
conversion Spalding’s lead had increased to 12 points.

Ash Anker came off the bench, featuring for the first time this season after a shoulder injury more than 12 months ago.

Ashbourne came storming back as they stepped up their game with their left-winger breaking free twice with an immediate response and the visitors had a two-point lead.

The second half was a different story with Ashbourne settling down into their normal pattern of strong forward play, a dominant scrum gaining 
turnover ball, allowing the visitors’ centres room to run with the ball.

A 15-minute spell early in the second half saw the game suddenly swing quickly in Asbourne’s favour with three tries scored as Spalding 
struggled to defend out wide.

Ashbourne finished off with a converted try in the last 10 minutes as the game ended disappointingly for Spalding after such a good first half against one of the top teams.

Spalding: Greaves, McLaren, Barratt, Haighton, H Brown, Bailey, Cole, W Shields, West, Sharman, G Brown, B Shields, Williamson. Subs Anker, Reid, Figuerido.