HOME FORM: Scrum half Will Shields touches down for the Elephants in their first league win of the season.
Spalding were under the cosh with a fairly lacklustre first half performance, resulting in a 17-point deficit at half time.
But they exploded into life during an exhilarating second half, with outstanding running rugby, an awesome try hat-trick from Taylor Crowson and a last-minute penalty kick securing a superb victory.
Spalding last played Newark two seasons ago when both teams were in Midlands One (East) but, with the visitors being relegated to Midlands Two, old rivalries were once again the order of the day.
However, Spalding’s preparations in the warm-up were thrown into disarray with Ryan Chappell, due to be playing at number eight, pulling up with a calf injury.
Harry Brown, although himself still carrying an injury, came off the bench and Richard Cooke, on his travels to play for the Nomads at Biggleswade, was recalled.
Making a welcome return to Spalding from Stamford College Old Boys was Crowson.
Adam HcHugh was back from injury at centre and Harry Sharman, after an impressive outing with the Nomads the previous week, began at at blind side flanker, with Mikey Watts also back at prop.
The visitors were soon into their stride and a missed penalty opportunity was swiftly followed by their centre running strongly through weak tackling for a converted try.
Spalding’s start was slow and riddled with handing errors, and Newark’s forwards were next, creating a platform for their prop to go over and, together with a penalty, Newark had established a healthy 17-point lead after 20 minutes.
Spalding struggled to cope in the blustery conditions with passes going astray and lineout possession suffering.
Out of nowhere from a scrum under pressure on Newark’s 22 metre line, Harry Brown picked up at the base broke the initial defensive tackle feed scrum half Will Shields.
He finished off the move with a good score, McHugh’s conversion going wide.
Newark’s lock received a yellow card and Spalding, instead of capitalising on the one-man advantage, conceded a third try with the last play of the first half, allowing Newark to restore a solid advantage of 22-5.
Spalding needed an early score in the second half if they were to get anything out of this game, and it duly arrived after five minutes of play.
Spalding’s forwards combined to drive the ball up field.
Jason Steels broke, gaining 10 metres, offloading to Brown who gave a short pass to Crowson, flying in at speed and over the line for his first try.
Before Newark could recover, McHugh received a well weighted pass from Harry Winch, putting him into a hole between Newark’s centres 40 metres out.
He passed the next defensive tackle and ran under the posts, and with his successful conversion only five points separated the teams.
Will Shields injured his ankle, being replaced by Richard Cooke and Huw Sharman was already off the field, replaced by Kieran Lake.
Crowson now imposed himself on the game as he tore Newark’s defence apart with his speed and agility with two further outstanding tries within a six-minute spell of running rugby.
Suddenly the home team had a seven-point lead with 20 minutes remaining.
To Newark’s credit they came battling back using their powerful scrum to good effect, and within Spalding’s 22 metres they started to win a succession of penalties.
Finally McHugh went off his feet whilst competing for the ball at a ruck and the yellow card came out.
It was now scrum time and, as Newark edged towards the try line, a penalty try was conceded, levelling the scores with eight minutes to play.
Spalding went hunting for the win with the visitors tiring, and it was their turn to concede kickable penalties.
First Winch stepped up with McHugh absent and his kick sailed wide.
With just about the last play of the match Newark infringed again and this time Harry Sharman stepped up and successfully slotted the ball over.
SPALDING: Barrett, Cowell, Watts, Haighton, Deurden, Sharman, Steels, Brown, Shields, Crowson, Sharman, Winch, McHugh, Sharman; Replacements: Osborne, Lake, Cooke.