RUGBY UNION: Second-half collapse for Spalding in basement battle

  • Midlands Two East (North) - Nottingham Casuals 33 Spalding 12
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Saturday saw the clash of the two teams at the bottom of the table with both having won just one home game.

Therefore this was one of the games targeted for a rare away win.

Spalding started brightly with plenty of intensity, retaining the ball well and pinning Nottingham Casuals in their own half.

This pattern continued for the opening quarter of an hour with scrum-half Will Shields spinning good quick ball out to fly-half Harry Winch who was dictating play.

The impressive start was rewarded when Sam Cowell lying out in the backs burst onto a Winch pass, eluded the defensive tackle and crossed the try line near the posts with Tom Winch converting.

From the restart it was perhaps the first time that Casuals had been in Spalding territory.

But steadily the home team began to compete successfully and gain confidence as their half-back pairing spread the ball out wide and they were rewarded when their winger went over for an unconverted try.

Fortunately for Spalding, Casuals’ kicker was having an off day as several penalty kicks went wide and at half-time Spalding had a deserved two-point lead.

The second half, however, was a different story.

Casuals’ scrum had been steadily gaining the upper hand.

Coach George Reid made the call to replace Kieran Bailey with Jason Steels coming on as flanker and Tom Duerden moving to lock.

The home team were in ascendancy and Spalding’s tackling was holding firm.

Invariably under pressure, possession was conceded either through knock-ons or penalties for a break down offence.

Casuals opted for scrums five metres out. With weight advantage, three tries were conceded in quick succession and with their kicker now finding form the home team had a comfortable lead.

Spalding responded and endeavoured to move the ball around away from Casuals’ forwards.

They were rewarded when Cowell went over for his second try but shortly afterwards Casuals’ winger danced his way through Spalding’s defence for the final score as the whistle went.

Key feature of this match was ball retention and during the first 20 minutes Spalding’s play was excellent.

However, as the game unfolded too many unforced errors handed possession back to Casuals who used their forward power in particular to good effect.

Spalding staged a late revival but again lost possession allowed Casuals to put in some good relieving kicks out of defence.

Spalding: Barrett, Cowell, Osborne, Turner, Bailey, Duerden, Cooke, H Brown, Shields, H Winch, T Winch, H Sharman, G Brown, G Sharman, Douglas.