Defeat for Spalding
Spalding travelled to Oakham, buoyed by last week’s excellent Cup performance against Buxton, but the home team, second in the league, were lying in wait and ready to bring their A game.
Spalding again fielded a settled side, the only changes being Miguel Da Silva in for Ash Anker, Charlie Johnson at outside centre and Gav Sharman back on the left wing.
Within the first few minutes, it became clear to see that Oakham were a well-drilled team as they immediately had Spalding on the back foot.
Early on, the visitors were forced to resort to a kick to touch from within their own twenty two to clear the danger. Oakham won their lineout and within a flash the ball was in the hands of their fly half, Calum Crellin.
A planned move saw both their left wing and full back come into the attack, creating a clear overlap. Outside centre Johno Milnes duly took advantage of a big hole in Spalding’s defence to score a try, and with a successful kick Oakham were seven points up.
On the ten-minute mark, Oakham kicked to touch from a penalty conceded, resulting in a lineout on Spalding’s five metre line. The home team established a driving maul, which drove over the try line for Oakham’s second try.
Spalding were not at the races, losing possession in contact, second best to the breakdown and struggling to contain Oakham, who were now well on top.
To cap it all, Spalding seemed to be falling foul of the referee and some of his decisions, such as Ryan Chappell being yellow carded for not releasing in the tackle.
From the scrum, and with their one-man advantage, Oakham were able to score out wide on the right wing to extend their lead further.
With half-time approaching Oakham’s flanker deliberately knocked on and was yellow carded, giving a scoring opportunity to Spalding before half-time for Spalding. Ingleby’s kick failed to find touch, however, and the chance went begging.
Spalding took the opportunity to regroup at the break and looked to implement their game plan rather than being dictated to by Oakham.
Soon after the restart Harry Cole took a stinger to his shoulder and was replaced off the bench by his younger brother, Will.But the change did not stop Spalding from stepping up their efforts, with forwards Luke Turner, Jacob Greaves and Piccaver making big carries into Oakham territory.
But the home team hit back as they applied pressure in the scrum, and their fly half was again soon orchestrating another backs move to score down the left wing.
Spalding again battled back and were now having the majority of territory and possession, but Oakham’s defence was rock solid, as they defended in depth as one within their five metre line. Spalding captain Dan Adams crashed the ball up several times, but the gaps were not opening up.
A tactical switch sawConall Mason move to fly half, Ingleby to outside centre and Charlie Johnson to full back.Will Shields, returning from many weeks out with an injury, replaced Ben Shields at scrum half, and in the final few minutes Macaulay Crane came on for Da Silva
After a series of pick and dives by Spalding, with valiant defence on the line by Oakham, Harry Sharman was finally able to touch down seconds before the final whistle, for a consolation try.
Spalding could have been overrun by Oakham in the second half, but the determination to get that try underlined the team’s impressive spirit.
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