Spalding RFC suffered a narrow 21-19 defeat to West Bridgford, after coming so close to snatching a late victory.
The outcome of Saturday’s game was in the balance until the final kick when Spalding were awarded a penalty 40 metres out, near the touch line.
Fly half James West stepped up, went through his normal preparation, connected well with the ball... but it sailed agonisingly a metre wide of the goal posts, leaving Spalding bottom of the league.
Spalding were able to field one of their strongest teams so far this season for this vital clash against the visitors, who were just above the relegation zone, with Ryan Chappell, Harry Sharman, Adam Castle and West all starting with Harry Brown still on the bench carrying an injury.
From the kick off Spalding’s tactics, on a rainy afternoon, were fairly obvious, to keep it simple and use the forwards to carry the ball and West to kick for territory.
Within the opening 10 minutes Spalding were rewarded with Sam Cowell, continuing with his recent scoring record, bursting onto a pass 10 metres out and forcing his way over the line for an unconverted try.
The game ebbed and flowed.
West Bridgford had the upper hand in the scrum but both teams were fiercely competing at the break down.
When Will Shields was able to deliver good ball to West, centres Harry Winch and George Brown were using their strength to crash the ball up.
The visitors turned a ball over to gain possession at a ruck.
Suddenly with no defence on the blind side Spalding were caught as West Bridgford centre cut through a gaping hole for a converted try to take the lead
Harry Sharman, suffering from a blow to the head, was replaced by Harry Brown and it was not long before he was in the action, supporting Ash Piccaver as the visitors defence was ripped apart and Brown finished off some excellent forward play and with West converting.
However Spalding failed to cope with the re-start and lost possession in a tackle.
Again Spalding were caught out on the blind side and Bridgford capitalised to run in a converted try under the posts to snatch the half-time lead with a two-point advantage.
Luke Turner replaced Sam Cowell in the front row with all to play for in the second half but the visitors were also looking for an away win and a kick deep into Spalding’s half was taken by Adam Castle on the left wing.
A good chase by Bridgford saw him closed down quickly and the clearance was fielded by the visitors who quickly spread the ball along their backs for the winger to score out wide.
With an excellent conversion a nine point advantage was established.
Spalding were using West to kick deep into Bridgford territory and with Josh Caley throwing in well at lineout’s and Brown also providing good ball at the base of the scrum possession was being retained.
Both Tom Deurden and Ryan Chappell were prominent with their carries with conditions getting worse and the ball becoming difficult to handle
However it was from open play that Castle found some space on the left wing and his pace took him clear of the defence and sensibly he touched down near the goal posts to give West a successful conversion and with 17 minutes remaining the lead was down to just the one score.
Bridgford effectively held out to deny Spalding of any further scoring opportunities until the dying seconds of the game when West’s penalty kick just failed.
With next week’s game away at high flying Ashbourne, relegation survival will be a battle in the New Year.
SPALDING: Osborne, Cowell, Caley, Deurden, Heighton, Piccaver, Chappell, Sharman, Shields, West, Castle, Winch, Brown, Sharman, Douglas; Subs: Turner, Brown, Lake.