Spalding Rugby Club defeat Huntingdon in the Midlands 3 East (South)
Spalding claimed a deserved 22-5 victory in their first home match of the Midlands 3 East (South) season on Saturday.
The Elephants showed terrific team spirit in difficult conditions to bounce back from last week's opening day defeat at Dunstablians.
Expectations had been raised before the start as Spalding took to the field through a guard of honour provided by players from the minis section of the club.
Once on the field both teams formed up for a minute of applause in honour of lifelong vice-president and supporter Norman Issitt who sadly passed away earlier last week.
As the players kicked off, the rain was hammering down which was going to make for tricky handling conditions and during the second half it became near monsoon-like.
Both teams soon adapted well and the match became highly competitive. One minute Spalding were impressing with their ball carrying led by captain Luke Turner and Ash Anker and then the visitors were equally responding and looking dangerous.
After twenty minutes, Spalding had make a good break with Ash Piccaver and Harry Cole gaining territory deep into the visitors' half and forcing a clearance kick to touch.
Mark Haighton won the ball at the front of the line-out and it was gathered in by Will Shields and the Spalding pack drove forward with Shields scoring the opening try.
A few minutes later, while tackling, centre Dan Adams suffered a deep cut above the eye and, after being attended by first aider Teresa Sawyer, left the field to be replaced by Hamish Waine.
Huntingdon looked to take advantage but the ball was ripped in a tackle by Spalding.
From deep in their own half, fly-half Conall Mason passed out to Gav Sharman who made a break.
Full back George Douglas was in support along with debutant James Luto and the pass back to Sharman then released Luto to run in for an outstanding try.
After the half time break, with Spalding going back into the changing rooms out of the rain, Huntingdon upped their game and started to put pressure on the home side's scrum and their line-out was also equally impressive and after five second half minutes their winger scored out wide.
Lock Connor Lilburn then suffered a shoulder injury and was replaced by Harry Sharman while a few minutes later full-back Douglas went down with cramp and was replaced by Callum Lewis.
The sky was now very dark with intense rain making passing difficult and handling errors became common but Spalding’s scrum was now rock solid with Sharman breaking from the back and Miguel Da Silva showing his strength and pace.
Spalding were now encamped deep in Huntingdon’s 22 and Sharman ran onto a pass from scrum half Adam Sutcliffe and broke through the initial Huntingdon defensive tackles and was over for Spalding’s third try and a 10-point lead.
Huntingdon failed to respond and it was Spalding who went in search of their bonus point try as full time approached.
Again it was through the forwards with penetrating carries followed by securing their ruck with Ash Piccaver prominent.
But, unfortunately after retaliating following foul play by a Huntingdon player, Piccaver was shown a red card.
This did not stop Spalding's momentum and it was Sharman who forced his way over in the dying seconds with Mason converting to seal the win.
Spalding: Harry Cole, Miguel Da Silva, Luke Turner, Mark Haighton, Connor Lilburn, Ash Piccaver, Will Shields, Ask Anker, Adam Sutcliffe, Conall Mason, James Luto, Dan Adams, Gav Sharman, Ben Shields, George Douglas. Subs: Harry Sharman, Callum Lewis, Hamish Waine.
Bourne's home match against Daventry in the same division was postponed due to a Covid-19 outbreak in the visitors' squad.