Buxton RFC 31
Spalding RFC 12
Spalding RFC’s away woes continued in Midlands Three East (North) as they went down 31-12 at Buxton on Saturday.
Town, who have yet to win on the road in the league this season, were unable to make a numerical advantage count in what was a stormy game in Derbyshire.
Taking to the field in fourth place, The Elephants had the advantage of a strong wind blowing lengthways down the pitch – making the contest very much ‘a game of two halves’.
However, Buxton soon showed that they were familiar with such conditions as they used their forwards to pick and drive forward or short pop passes to their inside centre to burst through initial tackles down the middle.
At the breakdown, they were first to the ruck to protect the ball, before recycling. For the first 20 minutes, Town failed out of their own half.
Finally, with the aid of downfield kicks, Spalding threatened, but Buxton’s strong forwards held firm.
However, the first indiscipline by the home team, saw a punch being landed on Will Shields as he legally disrupted a ruck.
The referee instantly red carded Buxton’s scrum half and mysteriously yellow carded Shields.
Spalding failed to drive home their advantage from ten metres out and Buxton’s forwards immediately worked their way back up field, with simple rugby retaining the ball in tricky and windy conditions.
After a succession of rucks on Spalding’s try line the pressure soon told and Buxton were in for their opening try.
Town, at last, sprung a surprise with a good tackle on a Buxton forward, with the ball going lose.
Scrum-half Ben Shields picked up and ran clear down the wing for a try that was converted by Willis Ingleby.
From the restart, Spalding failed to clear the ball downfield and again Buxton’s forwards dominated the breakdown.
With their simple game plan, the pressure eventually brought its reward with their second try.
Having failed to pin Buxton down in their own half with the benefit of the strong wind, Town turned around at half time with a three point deficit with the prospect of facing an uphill battle into the strong wind
It was no surprise that, within minutes of the restart, the home team were forcing the pace with their strong carries and ability to protect the ball as they recycled for the next phase.
The visitors were forced into making tackle after tackle, as they steadily retreated.
From a scrum on the five metre line, Buxton forced their way over near the posts and with the conversion, the lead was starting to stretch out.
Soon after, the home team’s forwards again reverted to using underhand tactics at the breakdown.
Finally, the referee became aware and a further Buxton player was red carded, while Town’s Luke Turner was also shown a red for retaliation.
Passing and handling in the windy conditions was difficult throughout the game and a Spalding lost ball resulted in Buxton scoring their fourth try.
Once again, unacceptable behaviour by a Buxton player saw him yellow carded. But, by the laws of the game, it should have been an automatic red.
Still, with a two-man advantage with nearly ten minutes remaining Spalding had a chance to retrieve the day and Ed Booth on the right wing cut back inside to score.
Unfortunately poor judgement and passing by their fly-half saw too many passes not going to hand and opportunities were wasted.
Typically it was the hosts who had the last word as one of Buxton’s stand-out forwards, the number eight, ran half the length of the field – breaking a number of tackles – to score the final try as the final whistle was blown.
During this game Spalding’s inability to fully understand and adapt their style of play to the conditions was the key difference between the teams resulting in another defeat on the road.
They are back on the road again this Saturday when they visit third-placed Ashfield (2.15pm).
Town: Kev Hudson, John Barrett, Luke Turner, Mark Haighton, Jordan Templar, Harry Cole, Will Shields, Ash Ankar, Ben Shields, Willis Ingleby, Gav Sharman, Dan Adams, Tom Wilson, Ed Booth, Connal Mason. Sub: Richard Cooke.