Unlucky 13! Under-strength Spalding RFC prove valiant in defeat

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On Saturday Spalding took to the field in a similar fashion to the soldiers in the Charge of the Light Brigade into the Valley of Death.

Ravaged by injuries, unavailability, late withdrawals and a virus which had hit many of the players, the first team squad was down to just 13 reasonably fit players and, on Saturday morning, the decision was made to travel and fulfil the fixture.

What an introduction and welcome for Mark Elsey, who had recently joined from Thorney, as the side were beaten 78-14.

At the best of times, Ashbourne at home, are one of the most difficult games within the league, with their muddy sloping pitch.

Spalding took to the field realising that their fate was already sealed, but the afternoon would be all about how they could limit the home team’s final score.

Spalding, kicked off with the slope advantage for the first half, and initially it was difficult to separate the two teams.

Spalding tactics were clear to see, the team using James West to kick for territory at every opportunity.

This took Spalding down into Ashbourne’s final third and, at a breakdown, Will Shields, smartly spotted a gap and within a flash he ran unchallenged to go under the posts for the opening score, duly converted by West.

From the re-start Ashbourne capitalised on their superior numbers and within a short space of time three tries had been conceded.

But Spalding were making it a contest and applying themselves to the task with intelligence and commitment.

Captain Harry Brown conjured up a bit of magic to stun Ashbourne.

From a lineout he peeled around the front, catching everybody asleep, and from 50 yards out burst down the right wing.

With two Ashbourne players charging down on him, Brown, reached the try line and, from a difficult angle, West converted.

By half time Ashbourne led 25-14.

Reality set in during the second half as Ashbourne brought on fresh forwards to punch ever larger holes in Spalding’s weakening defence, adding 53 further points to the total.

As the final whistle blew the 13 heroic Spalding players fully deserved the accolades and compliments from the Ashbourne players and supporters as they were applauded off the field.

SPALDING: Hudson, Cowell, Barrett, Elsey, Waine, H. Brown, Shields, West, Castle, Winch, G. Brown, C. Douglas, G. Douglas.