Spalding RFC ran in eight tries as they got their season back on track with a commanding 44-7 victory over Northampton BBOB at the Memorial Field on Saturday.
After some excellent results against league leaders, Stockwood Park and Stamford at the end of 2019, form had gone into reverse recently with two defeats in Midlands Three East (South) and a Lincs Cup loss.
But, with visitors Northampton lying second from bottom, this always looked an opportunity for the Elephants to get back on-song.
The starting 15 saw young Will Cole retain the number six shirt, while Jacob Greaves returned after a few weeks absent at prop and the bench looked strong, with Ryan Chappell, Miguel Da Silva and MacCauley Crane all waiting in the wings.
Much like the previous week against Huntingdon, Spalding started the game looking the better team and were quicker to the breakdown, while having the confidence to pass the ball around to open the game up.
However, also similar to last week, the referee started to penalise Town for a number of penalty infringements – and each time Northampton were given the chance to gain territory with some excellent kicks to touch.
With a quarter of an hour on the clock, Spalding established a ruck in the opposition 22. Mysteriously, the ball emerged on BBOB’s side and Luke Turner drove in only to be yellow carded.
This made Spalding more determined, as within a couple of minutes a break down the left wing saw Matty Holmes put into space and he ran through to score behind the posts. With Conall Mason converting, Town were up – and never looked back.
Spalding were now rampaging all over the opposition, with Will Cole making a superb break only to be caught, followed by Reece Callaby showing his pace but again brought down. Both players suffered injuries and were replaced by Ryan Chappell and Miguel Da Silva.
Fresh legs helped launch Spalding’s next score, as they won the ball at the breakdown and scrum-half Ben Shields passed it out wide. With the opposition outnumbered four to one, centre George Brown’s pass saw Mason turn his opposite number inside out and run unchallenged for the second try.
BBOB’s then stepped up their game, using a set piece move from a lineout to set up an unstoppable driving maul to score their only try, plus a successful conversion.
As half time approached, the Spalding forwards were making in-roads with their carries led by Harry Sharman, Ryan Chappell and Harry Cole – and saw Ash Anker continue the movement, evaded two tackles and driving over for his first try of the afternoon.
The second half resumed with the Elephants in confident mood, with good handling between the forwards and the backs.
Fly-half Willis Ingleby, with centre Dan Adams drawing the BBOB’s defence wide, spotted a gap opening and pressed his accelerator. With nobody able to lay a hand on him, Ingleby touched down having run from near the half way line for another brilliant individual try, securing a bonus point in the process.
Although missing Jordan Templer in the lineout, Anker was proving to be as dominant, giving an excellent ball for Shields to pass out to the backs. But it was not long before he starred again out in open play as he burst through BBOB’s weakening defence for his second try.
Anker’s reward was to be substituted, as Town brought on MacCauley Crane for the final 30 minutes.
In the last 20 minutes Spalding were full of running, whilst the away side were staring at a heavy defeat.
With the ball again being passed securely, centres Adams and Brown made in-roads with their pace, releasing Holmes to grab his second try.
Meanwhile, left winger Ed Booth, although having several runs, could not find the space to make a decisive break.
Whenever BBOB threatened full-back Mason was there, never missed a tackle or failed to clear his lines with his excellent relieving kicks. He is also proving a real threat when entering to join the backs in attack this season.
With a good pass from Brown, he showed real pace and cut back inside to score unopposed near the posts.
And, with his successful conversion, Spalding were looking formidable.
The final try was again created by the pressure being applied by the forwards, keeping possession, with good carries and secure rucks.
Within touching distance of the try line, BBOB were penalised. Quick thinking from Ingleby then saw him take a tap penalty and he dived over the try line for the final score.
With eight tries scored, Spalding player/coach Harry Sharman was happy.
He said: “I’m pleased to see the team back in the groove and to see the good spirit within the team.
“However, there were still a number of areas that could be improved during training this week ready for Saturday’s home cup match.”
Town welcome Buxton to the Memorial Field this Saturday in the RFU Vase Cup Midlands Section semi-final (2pm).
Spalding RFC: Jacob Greaves, John Barrett, Luke Turner, Harry Cole, Ash Anker, Will Cole, Reece Callaby, Harry Sharman, Ben Shields, Willis Ingleby, Ed Booth, Dan Adams, George Brown, Matty Holmes, Conall Mason. Subs: Miguel Da Silva, Ryan Chappell, MacCauley Crane.