Spalding Rugby Club defeat Dronfield to win the NLD Trophy
Spalding Rugby Club ended their campaign on a high after winning the NLD Trophy on Saturday.
They produced a superb performance to defeat Dronfield 27-21 having won the first leg at home 39-12 the previous weekend.
The return leg was expected to be a far tougher test, with Spalding having to make the 160-mile round trip to Derbyshire.
But they started start well with some great kicking putting Spalding in some good areas, pressing Dronfield back deep in their half.
Strong defence by Dronfield kept Spalding at bay, but ultimately it resulted in them giving away two penalties early on - which were both converted by Conall Mason.
Dronfield then responded as Spalding turned over possession while attacking down the wing, and a couple of missed tackles let the hosts through for a 7-6 lead.
Dronfield started to establish some dominance as they came back into the game, but Spalding were excellent defensively; in particular Sam Cooke and Ash Ankar, who put in some great hits.
Rolling back the years, Rob Lucas was also pulling the strings at scrum half to provide fly half Willis Ingleby with good ball.
After a penalty to Spalding, Ingleby kicked to the corner where a good take at the line out by Tom Birdseye saw captain Luke Turner barrel his way over for Spalding’s first try, which Mason converted for a 13-7 advantage.
Dronfield then hit back again and, after a prolonged period in Spalding’s 22, a couple of passes through the back line and a cut back inside saw them score under the posts for an easy conversion to edge back into the lead.
Spalding swept forward after the break and centre Taylor Crowson side-stepped two players and showed his pace to burn past Dronfield’s last man for another easily converted try to retake the lead at 20-14.
Substitute Miguel Silva was then introduced into the Spalding pack via the bench for the injured Connor Lilburn.
With the home crowd urging Dronfield on, they hit back with another converted score to make it 21-20 with the clock ticking down to full time.
But, with just seconds remaining, Ingleby punted a lovely kick through behind Dronfield’s defensive line and left wing Gav Sharman out-ran the defence to pick the ball up and coast to the try line for the match winning score.
Mason knocked over the conversion and, with the final whistle going, Spalding had run out 27-21 winners to leave Dronfield stunned as the Elephants celebrated a magnificent team effort.
Spalding: Luke Turner, Sam Cooke, Harry Cole, Connor Lilburn, Ed Williams, Tom Birdseye, Will Shields, Ash Ankhar, Rob Lucas, Willis Ingleby, Gav Sharman, Taylor Crowson, Wilson Crowson, Callum Lewis, Conall Mason, Fabian, Miguel Silva, Dougie Hilton.