Spalding RFC 45
Rushden & Higham 0
Spalding RFC produced their best performance of the Midlands Three East (South) season so far as they crushed high-flying Rushden and Higham 45-0 on Saturday.
The visitors arrived for the clash at a surprisingly good Memorial Field surface in fourth position, but Town proved too strong and romped to only their second victory of the campaign.
The opening minutes saw Rushden looking the more confident, gaining territorial advantage at Spalding’s expense – but the home team’s defence was well organised with secure tackles nullifying any threats.
Town flanker Ryan Chappell was soon demonstrating his speed and thrust as first receiver from the rucks and suddenly there was a break in open play with Captain Dan Adams feeding his co-centre Taylor Crowson who cut through to open the scoring, with Conall Mason converting.
Moments later Ash Anker, Wilson Crowson and Willis Ingleby combined to find left wing Gav Sharman.
He showed his turn of pace as he rounded his opposite number for Spalding’s second converted try and a 14-point lead after 15 minutes.
Town didn’t have things all their own way and a series of Rushden rucks followed, as the visitors edged forward and finally lock Macauley Crane was penalised by the referee for not rolling away and was shown a yellow card.
Within a minute Spalding suffered a further blow as Wilson Crowson also departed for a ten-minute break.
The home team’s mettle was then tested as they stood firm on their five-metre line. Prop Luke Turner took a hard knock to the head in a collision, but as Rushden were within a metre of the line they were penalised for holding onto possession in a ruck and the hosts cleared their line and survived.
However, Town’s troubles with the referee were not over. Crane was back on but now Sharman saw yellow for a rather innocuous retaliation against his opposite winger.
With Wilson Crowson back on, Spalding sprang back to life as their scrum started to take control through their front row of Pete Waudby, John Barrett and Turner.
A penalty kick to touch, deep inside Rushden’s 22, saw Harry Sharman winning his lineout, but a driving maul to the line was held.
The danger was still present, though, and Adams cut back inside and broke a couple of tackles before crossing the line for a converting score – meaning Spalding went into half time with a 22-0 lead.
Rushden came out fighting after the break, but a big clearance kick saw them peddling backwards.
The ball came loose at the ruck on the try line and Adams gleefully touched down, meaning the try bonus point was now in the bag.
Spalding’s scrum was now in the ascendancy and, along with good lineout possession from Anker, the home team were in control with good first phase possession.
An incredible try from Harry Sharman followed. Breaking from the back of a scrum near the halfway line, he ran wide and with the defence initially failing to lay a hand on him, he continued to bear down on the try line.
Finally the cover defence made their tackles but Sharman escaped and went over for a terrific try.
Next up it was Ingleby who showed his pace and determination for an outstanding try.
Well inside his own half and with Rushden’s spirit broken, he spotted their defence in disarray and broke through a gap to sprint more than half the pitch to touch down for a converted try.
Flanker Harry Cole then became the fourth Spalding player shown a yellow card when he made contact with a Rushden player’s head and was very fortunate not to receive a red card.
In the last minute a cross field kick by Ingleby, saw Gav Sharman jump and take the high ball out on the wing.
He cut back inside but was denied his hat-trick as he was chased down and tackled.
This was by far Spalding’s best performance of the season, with their forwards getting on top in the scrums and the three quarters having plenty of possession in space and causing havoc.
Town, who are now up to eighth in the table, will be hoping to build on this showing and get their first away league win of the season when they visit basement side St Neots this Saturday (2.15pm).
Spalding RFC: Pete Waudby, John Barrett, Luke Turner, Ash Anker, Macauley Crane, Harry Cole, Ryan Chappell, Harry Sharman, Wilson Crowson, Willis Ingleby, Matty Holmes, Dan Adams, Taylor Crowson, Gav Sharman, Conall Mason. Subs: Jacob Greaves, Harry Brown and Harry Exley.