Renditions of ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’ rang out from the clubhouse after the game – not to celebrate a Spalding win, but England’s defeat of Scotland in the Six Nations.
Building on an encouraging performance last week, they had control of this game for long periods, with Spalding’s forwards prominent, but they were undone with Nottingham Casuals’ scrum-half and fly-half engineering room for their backs to run in five tries.
Spalding started brightly with the scrum again going well as Mikey Watts, Josh Caley and Luke Turner in the front row dominated their opposite numbers.
Casuals were trapped within their 22, battling against thrusting forward play with pick and goes and a blind side move saw Kieran Bailey supporting to go over for the first try after six minutes.
The domination continued with scrum-half Richard Cooke always prepared to take the opposition on around the fringes and with the forwards effectively clearing out at the rucks, it finally looked like Spalding had developed a winning formula.
But similarly to last week, a 10-minute spell rocked Spalding with three tries conceded as Casuals’ fly-half found space to orchestrate moves for his backs, alternating between moving the ball out wide to his wingers or back inside for crash ball moves.
Spalding responded well to this setback, again mainly through the forwards, with Ash Piccaver dominant and Tom Duerden controlling the ball from scrums.
It looked like the forwards had gone over for a try but the referee was unsighted and went back for a scrum to Spalding.
However just before half-time the ball went out wide to Ben Shields, making his debut on the right wing, and an offload saw Jason Steels supporting to go over for an unconverted try.
The game became far more open in the second half but Spalding still had the upper hand with first phase play, with Mark Haighton dominating lineout and well supported by Bailey and the scrum still going in Spalding’s favour.
Will Shields at fly-half found room to release George Brown whose pace and determination took him deep in the opposition’s half and with a delightful pass found Brian Browne on the left wing.
Casuals’ tackle came in, but high, and with Browne only a couple of metres short of the line, the referee awarded a penalty try converted by Mikey Watts and there was only a two-point difference.
Another burst down the left wing looked to have brought another try for Spalding and the lead but was ruled out with a foot in touch on the sideline.
The game was now finely balanced but it was the visitors who stole the result with two late tries with their crash ball moves burst through defensive gaps with Spalding’s defence tiring.
Although this was another defeat and relegation almost a certainty, this display by Spalding was full of determination and some excellent phases of play.
With three tries scored and a further two efforts ruled out, there are encouraging signs for the future.
Spalding: Watts, Caley, Turner, Haighton, Hudson, Bailey, Piccaver, Duerden, Cooke, Shields, Browne, Steels, Brown, Douglas. Subs Hutson, Cole, Greaves.