Semi-final treat for Spalding
Spalding secured a semi-final spot under the floodlights on Halloween.
A cracking cup tie swung initially to Kesteven but the visitors edged into the lead just before half-time.
The second half then saw Spalding building on their lead with the home team fighting back late on.
Spalding were rocked back during the warm-up when lock Conor Lilburn turned his ankle, only to discover later in A & E that he had a broken bone in his foot.
With a reshuffled pack, Spalding started brightly until they conceded a penalty within the first five minutes and the kick sailed wide.
Kesteven were soon exerting pressure in the scrums and they used this advantage to good effect as they spread the ball wide to their right-winger to open the scoring in the corner.
With flankers Liam Adams and Jack Patrick starting to show their pace to the breakdown areas,good possession was starting to be won. Number eight Ryan Chappell twisted and turned out of a couple of tackles going over the try line, levelling the scores.
Lock Macaule Crane had a big carry gaining 15 metres and set up a ruck deep in Kesteven’s 22-metre area.
Kesteven infringed and the referee played a penalty advantage as scrum-half Wilson Crowson fizzed the ball out to the backs. The ball ended up with lock Jason Steels to squeeze over the try line by the corner flag.
Five minutes from half-time, back chat to the referee followed by a knock-on in front of their posts cost Spalding dearly. With the advantage of a dominant scrum, Kesteven scored under the posts to take the lead by two points.
From the restart Spalding worked their way upfield with Chappell and John Barrett prominent with good carries.
A penalty conceded by Kesteven saw Spalding kick for touch and with Patrick winning lineout possession, the backs moved the ball out for left-winger Callum Lewis to score in the corner, having been denied earlier when touching down in goal.
The start of the second half saw both teamslooking to move the ball around but full-back Conall Mason was called upon to put in a couple of decisive last-man tackles while debutant right-winger George Fowler was also showing his strength in the tackle.
But a 'no arms' contact by Harry Cole meant he took a 10-minute rest with Kesteven kicking the penalty.
Harry Sharman replaced Crane and Spalding also rearranged their backs with Mason up to fly-half, Willis Ingleby moving to outside centre and Taylor Crowson to full-back.
Deep inside Kesteven’s half, a backs move was fizzling out when Ingleby threw a pass out to Taylor Crowson between his legs. With unexpected space created, Crowson was over the line to restore a five-point advantage .
From the restart kick-off, Jason Steels stole possession and immediately made ground. An inside pass to Patrick saw him outpace Kesteven’s defence for a brilliant try to establish a 10-point lead with 20 minutes remaining.
Kesteven rallied by using their forwards to gain territory and Spalding were penalised again at the scrum. Kesteven kicked across the pitch to their left-winger who gathered and scored and with a successful conversion Spalding's lead had been reduced to three points.
The home team went looking for a winning try and had Spalding pinned back in their half for the final quarter of an hour with fly-half Mason managing the situation with some good long distant relieving kicks.
A final push by Kesteven saw a scrum awarded to Spalding but they stood firm under enormous pressure. The ball was pumped into touch, with time up the final whistle blew.
More by this authorMark Lea