Midlands One East: Belgrave 19 Spalding 23
This was an epic contest between two teams who had battled it out last season to gain promotion but struggled to cope with life in Midlands One East League and both were already relegated.
Belgrave had the bragging rights having won at Spalding on the first game of the season – but could the visitors turn the tables and come away with a first win on the last game of the season?
With a good squad to pick from Ryan Chappell and Sam Cooke decided to keep faith with as many of the players as possible who had battled it out all season for no reward.
Tom Duerden was back in the pack together with Ben Williams due to the welcome return of Jim Williams at fly-half, which also allowed for the centre partnership of Chappell and George Brown.
Belgrave started the match as expected with a certain amount of confidence with Spalding taking their time to get into the game and the defence being put under pressure.
A knock on by Spalding resulted in a scrum to Belgrave ten metres from the try line and, with their pack having the upper hand, the scrum-half darted through a blindside gap and under the posts for a converted try.
The match was starting to ebb and flow as Spalding’s defensive lines were stopping the home team in their tracks.
Williams made several excellent clearance kicks to gain territory and an offence by Belgrave at the breakdown gave Jos Broome the opportunity to successfully kick a difficult penalty.
Within a few minutes Belgrave came storming back and their scrum-half found another gap and was in again for his second converted try.
John Barrett, having put in a good shift in the front row, made way for Josh Caley and at half-time Belgrave were in the lead by 14 points to three.
Tim Waltham replaced Jordan Templer, resulting in Duerden moving to lock, Harry Brown to blindside flanker, Williams to number eight and Waltham at openside flanker.
Immediately from the kick-off Spalding took control.
Duerden was driving deep into Belgrave’s defence, making the ball available. Ash Piccaver started to show his pace in support and the forwards were totally in control of the ball well into the home team’s territory and as a result the penalty count was starting to mount in Spalding’s favour.
Broome kicked for a line-out and with clean ball won by Duerden, a driving maul started to rumble and was illegally stopped by Belgrave with their lock not releasing and was shown a yellow card.
Spalding went for another lineout and again indiscipline by Belgrave saw their hooker yellow-carded.
Spalding immediately took advantage and the forwards drove over with Ben Williams touching down near the corner flag for an unconverted try.
With two players in the sin bin Belgrave were struggling to contain Spalding who were now fully in control, keeping the ball in hand and drawing further penalties.
Ben Williams was again showing his experience and with help from his fellow forwards was again over for a try. Broome kicked a good conversion and Spalding were now 15-14 ahead.
Broome converted a further penalty to increase the lead to four points.
Belgrave were reduced to 14 players for the rest of the game and a blind side move saw Jim Williams finding a defensive gap for him to burst through and over for an unconverted try.
Belgrave came back with an unconverted try but Spalding were able to play out the remaining minutes.
Spalding: Waudby, Cooke, Barrett, Templer, Piccaver, T Duerden, B Williams, H Brown, Shields, J Williams, Lane, Chappell, G Brown, Seconde, Broome, Caley, Waltham, Moore.