Spalding Rugby Club are beaten by Huntingdon in the Midlands 3 East (South) clash
The Huntingdon forwards adapted to the wet conditions better than Spalding who went down to a 26-7 away loss in Saturday’s Midlands 3 East (South) clash.
Both teams suffered from the slippery and rather damp conditions with the ball being knocked on too often in the opening match of 2022 for the Elephants.
The day did not look too promising for Spalding as they travelled down to Huntingdon in heavy rain but, by the time they took to the pitch, thankfully the rain had stopped and conditions were surprisingly good underfoot.
The opening period was very positive for Spalding who had the upper hand in the scrum as both teams were having handling problems with a slippery ball.
However, the home team settled and started to use their big forwards to punch holes in Spalding’s defence again under the leadership of George Brown.
From a line-out the home team won possession and established a rolling maul which drove over the line after 12 minutes for a converted try.
Both teams were struggling at the breakdown and penalties were starting to be conceded but Huntingdon were talking back too much to the referee and several penalties were reversed in Spalding’s favour.
However, two penalty kicks were missed while a yellow card was shown to a Huntingdon player.
Fly-half Conall Mason was also kicking for touch and, with line-out possession secured by Alan Charevicius, Spalding were unable to take advantage with ambitious offloads resulting in possession lost on to many occasions.
Harry Cole was also yellow-carded for Spalding who, straight after missing a penalty kick, saw Huntingdon turn over possession and were immediately under the posts.
Instead of being just the one point in the match, Huntingdon had established a 14-point lead and they further increased their advantage with another effective driving maul from a line-out and at half-time had established a 19-point lead.
Spalding resumed play but their structure seemed to fall apart with Huntingdon taking advantage at the rucks and, with growing confidence, started to pass the ball along their back with the visiting back row of Harry Waine and Will Cole making a number of good defensive tackles.
Frustration was building up in Spalding’s ranks and Mason was yellow-carded while Connor Lilburn was replaced by Macauley Crane due to a shoulder problem.
Huntingdon took advantage, dominating possession through their forwards and it was a backs move with their right winger cutting a line through Spalding’s defenders for their fourth bonus point try.
Out of the blue Spalding then started to play some really good rugby with positive carries and looking for space rather than going down blind alleys.
With just a couple of minutes left, they looked to have scored in the corner, but the referee judged the ball to have been held up.
From Huntingdon’s kick out from under the posts, Spalding regained possession and finally a backs move worked to perfection as full-back George Douglas sailed straight through Huntingdon’s defence at pace to score by the posts for Mason to convert.
Spalding did not help themselves in this match as they were too often slow to the breakdown and, with pace out wide, centre Gav Sharman with his try-scoring record hardly received the ball all afternoon along with the two wingers.
However, the key difference was Huntingdon forwards who, on the day, were far more effective as illustrated by two try-scoring driving mauls.
The defeat leaves Spalding third-from-bottom of the table ahead of Saturday’s home match with Luton.
Spalding: Tom Parker, George Brown, Miguel Da Silva, Connor Lilburn, Alan Charevicius, Harry Waine, Will Cole, Harry Cole, Adam Sutcliffe, Conall Mason, Callum Lewis, Adam Lewis, Gav Sharman, Fabian Simpson, George Douglas. Subs: Macauley Crane, James Luto.