Spalding Rugby Club are beaten by Stewart & Lloyds in Counties 2 Midlands East (South)
Spalding conceded his second defeat in a row on Saturday after winning 39:33 in an exciting high score competition at Stewart and Lloyds.
Their third-placed hosts led 70 minutes of the game but Spalding, inspired by two-try captain Luke Turner, kept coming back and, despite losing, returned home with two valuable bonus points.
The home side showed their will from the start and went over the goal in the fourth minute after a line-out after a driving maul to an unsuccessful attempt.
However, Spalding camped early and with the advantage of a sloping field in S&L’s 22.
A scrum formed with a couple of pick-and-gos from Macauley Crane and Tom Parker, and scrum half Will Shields, noting a lack of guard defense, helped himself to a score.
Spalding suffered a blow after 13 minutes when S&L attacked on the outside edge but were still outside the visitors’ 22.
Fly-half Conall Mason was ruled deliberately knocked and although there was a cover defense the referee awarded a penalty try with Mason enjoying a 10 minute break.
S&L took the advantage and scored a converted try for a 13-point advantage with a cross from their flying half to the left winger in open space.
The game was now consistent, both scrums were fairly even, and although Spalding was missing any regular line-out jumpers, Shields made an appearance and more than held his own, disrupting a number of home-team line-outs.
Disagreements in the ranks of S&L led to two yellow cards in quick succession just before half-time.
Spalding took advantage with a scrum in front of the post while Turner ran over for a converted try.
However, Spalding spilled from the kickoff on the ball, which was initially retrieved in an offside position.
S&L conceded a quick penalty, catching Spalding’s defense off guard and their left winger forging an 11-point lead at half-time.
With the pitch and home field advantage now in their favor, S&L was expected to move forward, but Mason, who had flown at half, fought well for territory to keep the Corby team at bay.
With a lineup at the home team’s 22, Shields once again won the ball while Ash Anker made some hard yards as receiver and sent Miguel Da Silva into a gap in the S&L defense to score.
This was a perfect move from practice, but S&L also had a good line-out drill and within minutes a driving maul reaped its reward, restoring an 11-point lead midway through the half.
S&L struggled for territory but full-back Jack Patrick was ready under pressure with some excellent punches in the air and his counter-attacking instincts, aided by center Gav Sharman, were a threat.
But it was Spalding’s strikers who made the biggest impression and they continued to press hard, with S&L missing a series of penalties.
After a tap penalty from the five-yard line, Sam Noble forced his way to a converted try with number eight.
10 minutes before the end there were more attempts and drama.
On a counterattack deep in their own half, a Mason pass went astray and the home side’s center scored and converted.
But Spalding responded by pressing deep on S&L’s try line, and after a series of scrums and pick and gos, Turner crashed with a good Mason conversion.
Drama unfolded in the final minutes as a Mason free-kick was knocked down and the home side scored.
However, Spalding was saved after the referee discovered an earlier breach and play was restarted for a guest scrum with Sam Noble and one of the S&L players receiving a yellow card.
Finally, after 80 minutes, the home side dead-kicked the ball to avoid an unlikely Spalding comeback that saw them press deep into the S&L half.
Despite the loss, Spalding remains second in Counties 2 Midlands East (South) but has a difficult journey to fourth-placed Rushden & Higham on Saturday.
Spalding: Tom Parker, Andy Fuller, Luke Turner, Macauley Crane, Harry Brown, Ash Anker, Ed Williams, Sam Noble, Will Shields, Conall Mason, Harry Hudson, Miguel Da Silva, Gav Sharman, Ben Shields, Jack Patrick.