RUGBY UNION: Relegation gets closer for Spalding after another defeat

Action from the home defeat to Loughborough earlier this season
Action from the home defeat to Loughborough earlier this season
  • Midlands Two East (North) - Loughborough 57 Spalding 6
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When these two teams meet early in the season at the Memorial Ground, Spalding narrowly lost in the last 10 minutes with Loughborough going on top of the league.

That was the start of Spalding’s struggles and four months on they are rock-bottom, facing relegation following another defeat.

They welcomed back Jacob Hutson to the front row after a long absence through injury and Adam McHugh returned to full-back with George Douglas moving to the wing.

The team had a settled look so there were expectations of a good performance.

With the disadvantage of a sloping pitch, Spalding received the kick-off and inside five minutes the home team soon announced their intentions with a converted try.

Moments later an infringement by Loughborough allowed James West to kick a penalty.

A similar pattern of play was repeated 10 minutes later with the home team running in a converted try and West responding with a penalty.

However, the traffic was mainly one-way with the Loughborough pack on top.

Although Spalding had their best lineout jumpers on show – namely Mark Haighton, Ash Piccaver and Tom Duerden – the home team were dominant in this phase of play.

The second quarter saw Loughborough opening up, spreading the ball around, looking for defensive gaps and with good support play.

Missed tackles by Spalding, together with a lack of intensity, saw the home team take full advantage to run in three tries and at half-time the scoreline read 36-6.

Spalding re-gathered at half-time and to their credit took the game to Loughborough helped by West’s penalty kicks to touch and a period of 20 
minutes of highly competitive rugby with the visitors having the better of the territory advantage with them closing down space in defence.

Chris Douglas had replaced his brother on the wing and brought some aggression, gaining good yardage.

McHugh had a couple of typical runs from full-back, bursting through tackles, while Duerden and Piccaver were proving to be a handful with their carries and driving runs.

However, during this period Spalding never really threatened Loughborough’s try line.

On the rare occasions the ball was spread along the three-quarters, space was found and a threat was posed.

The last quarter of the match again saw some poor defensive alignments and missed tackles by Spalding.

Three further tries were conceded before the referee called time and a relatively easy win for Loughborough.

Spalding: Barrett, Caley, Hutson, Haighton, Piccaver, Duerden, Cooke, H Brown, Shields, West, G Douglas, Winch, G Brown, Sharman, McHugh. Subs: C Douglas, Cowell.