Spalding RFC 51
Tupton RFC 15
Free-scoring Spalding RFC earned another impressive bonus-point victory in Midlands Three East (North)on Saturday as they romped to a 51-15 success over Tupton in a hastily-arranged fixture.
Tupton had pulled out of their home fixture with Town at the last minute earlier in the season, meaning that the clash was reversed under league rules and re-scheduled for the Memorial Field at the last minute.
The Elephants took their chance to move within three points of third-placed Belper in style by bagging a bonus point triumph for scoring nine tries – once again showing that the current squad of players are developing into a formidable team that should challenge for promotion next season.
Immediately from the kick off by Tupton, Spalding secured the ball and fly-half Willis Ingleby spotted Gav Sharman on the left wing unmarked and launched a high kick crossfield.
Sharman did well to catch and secure the ball and then offloaded to captain Dan Adams. Running strongly, he evaded two defenders and was under the posts in a flash.
With Conall Mason’s successful conversion, the hosts were seven points up within one minute.
Big Mark Haighton soon demonstrated that he would be the master of the lineout, securing the ball to scrum-half Will Shields.
Lock Ash Piccaver, back from suspension, then tracked the ball, received a pass at pace and broke a couple of tackles to go over.
Trying to manage themselves into the game, Tupton’s fly-half kicked deep – but full-back Mason was there to catch and launched a counter-attack down the right wing.
Mason found Ben Shields in support with a good offload and Shields had a simple run in.
From the restart, Ryan Chappell caught the ball and from his own half ran three quarters of the pitch evading defenders to touch down for an outstanding try.
Amazingly, after just 16 minutes of play Spalding had secured the try bonus point with the visitors in disarray.
Through their pack of forwards, Tupton soon started to establish a foothold in the game with their scrum surprisingly having the upper hand. Their experienced number eight was using his strength with good carries, setting up ruck after ruck and finally Town conceded a penalty for offside.
With no further score in the first half, Spalding enjoyed a lead of 22-3 at the break.
The on-song Elephants continued to spray the ball around in the second half, confident that their fitness would bring rewards as Tupton’s heavier players tired. Centre
George Brown was also crashing the ball down the middle to set up the platform – and, from a ruck, Chappell was released to again run through for his second try.
Tupton then surprised Spalding as their backs were now running hard and a kick through soon brought their opening converted try.
Town’s other back row players, Jason Steels and Ash Anker were now prominent with their breaks around the rucks and breakdown areas but it was young prop Harry
Cole who burst over the try line followed by Sharman being put into space on the half way line by Ingleby and with Sharman’s pace Tupton were a further try adrift.
It is also hard to keep flanker Anker out of the headlines. Again, from the visitors’ restart, he secured the ball, side stepped a couple of tackles and burst deep into Tupton’s 22 and released a pass to Piccaver to go under the post.
A few minutes later Spalding again were deep in the away 22, establishing a ruck. Spotting a lack of any guard defence around the ruck, Anker gleefully picked the ball and ran through unopposed.
The final score was secured by Tupton, who established a maul in front of the posts for an unconverted try.
This game was a joy to watch for the supporters, with the two contrasting styles of play.
Spalding with their open play using speed in the back row and the backs to create scoring opportunities, whilst Tupton had no choice but to revert to keep the ball in their pack of forwards to gain a foothold in the game.
With two games left to play, Town still have a good chance of finishing in the top three – but face a tricky test at second-placed Ashfield on Saturday (3pm).
Spalding RFC: Kev Hudson, John Barrett, Harry Cole, Mark Haighton, Ash Piccaver, Ash Ankar, Jason Steels, Ryan Chappel, will shields, Willis Ingleby, Ben Shields, Dan Adams, George Brown, Gav Sharman, Conall Mason. Subs: Jacob Greaves, Harry Sharman and Tom Wilson.
Saturday: Spalding v Ashfield (3pm).