RELIEF: Sam Cooke (centre) has captained Spalding RFC to safety from relegation. Photo by ADRIAN SMITH

Relieved Spalding RFC captain after relegation avoided: ‘We got job done’

Relieved skipper Sam Cooke praised a professional job as Spalding RFC prevented a second successive relegation.

Their 29-5 bonus-point win over Bakewell Mannerians last Saturday, coupled with closest rivals Mansfield losing to Melbourne, means that the Elephants go into this weekend’s final match of the Midlands Two East (North) season with the pressure off.
It is a situation which looked increasing unlikely until a stunning 26-19 win over title-chasing Ashbourne on April 2.

Cooke – in his first season as captain – admitted the outcome has been a “massive relief” at the end of a tough campaign on and off the field, which included the death of club chairman Geof Nichols in January.
Cooke said: “We knew we had to do it in these three matches and so far we’ve done just that. We’ve done ourselves proud.”

The captain had plenty of sympathy for bottom side Bakewell, whose plight has mirrored Spalding’s miserable campaign in Midlands 1 East last season.
Town lost their first 25 league matches before preventing a whitewash with a last-day victory at Belgrave.

Cooke said: “Bakewell have not had a good season. We know what it’s like – it’s a tough fate.
“We went there and did the job on Saturday. In the first half we got the four tries we needed. They came back at us a bit in the second half and maybe we took our foot off the gas a little but I’m not too concerned – we did what we had to do to save ourselves.”
He added: “It’s a shame to see Mansfield go down, but someone’s got to and we’re just pleased it’s not us.”

En route back from Matlock last Saturday (Bakewell’s pitch was deemed unfit for use), the squad stopped off in Nottingham for a few drinks and had a few more back in Spalding.

Cooke says there is still work to be done and hopes that feelgood factor will be there again after the Memorial Field clash with Coalville on Saturday (3pm).
“If we can complete the job against Coalville and Nottingham Casuals don’t beat Mansfield, we could finish eighth,” he said.
“I said at the start of the season I’d like us to finish mid-table. Eighth is the bottom end of that but given the season we’ve had it would be a decent position.”

Harry Harrison will be back in the squad this weekend and Harry Brown is expected to play a bigger part having recently returned from injury.

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