BUGBROOKE RFC 1st 62 SPALDING RFC 1st 3: A resounding defeat in Spalding’s first-ever league encounter with Bugbrooke reinforced just what standard will be needed in Midlands One.
Town had only a drop goal from fly-half Jim Williams – making his first appearance for 18 months – to show for their trip to Northamptonshire.
A club spokesman said: “The players were clearly disappointed with the result and will have to take it on the chin and up their game.
“The general standard of play, fitness and handling skills in this Midland One League is certainly a big step up from last season and the squad is going to have to take this experience as a learning curve on the level of play they will have to achieve to be competitive this season.”
There were several changes from the Spalding squad who had lost 32-21 to Belgrave the previous weekend.
With Jeremy Darley unavailable, Mark Haighton made a welcome return to lock, and with George Brown suffering a hamstring strain in midweek training, Josh Broome started on the wing.
With Hamish Munro also unavailable, Dan Mackie made his first team debut in an unfamiliar right-wing position.
Tim Waltham started at openside flanker in place of injured captain Harry Sharman. Even allowing for these changes, on paper, it still looked a promising Spalding squad.
Last season Bugbrooke finished in fourth place in Midlands One East, just a few points off securing a play-off place for promotion to the National Leagues.
Spalding kicked off with a slope and wind advantage and in the early exchanges it became clear that their game plan was to keep the ball around the forwards with Tom Duerden, Ash Piccaver and Alex Ioannou prominent.
However, after ten minutes Bugbrooke spread the ball along their three-quarter line, who demonstrated their passing skills at pace to put the right winger in for a converted try.
Bugbrooke exerted sustained pressure by giving them no time on ball before a tackle was coming in or forcing handling errors and resultant lose of possession. Quick thinking through a tapped penalty by Bugbrooke caught Spalding dawdling and with missed tackles the home team were through the defence and, with crisp handling, ran half the length of the field, for a converted try under the posts.
Further tries followed on 32 and 36 minutes and at half time Bugbrooke were justifiably winning 33-0.
Town started the second half brightly, showing the team spirit of the previous week and after only two minutes Ben Williams provided a pass to his brother Jim, who slotted over a delightful drop goal.
Bugbrooke were turning the screw. Their superior fitness and slick team play sliced open Spalding’s defence, especially out wide, as they continued to run in tries at regular intervals.
Their final two tries clearly illustrated the gap between the teams on the day. In the 70th minute, a penalty kick to the corner resulted in a Bugbrooke lineout eight metres from the try line. A planned catch and drive worked to perfection with the Spalding defence in tatters.
Five minutes later Spalding missed a kick to touch and Bugbrooke took ample advantage to score again.
Ash Anker, who played first team rugby last season before sustaining a shoulder injury, made his first appearance of the season but unfortunately needed medical attention as he dislocated the same shoulder.
Town: Chappell (captain), Waudby, Rowlands, Ioannou, Piccaver, Mark Haighton, H Brown, Waltham, T Duerden, B Williams, J Williams, Mackie, S Williams, Broome, McHugh, Cooke, Charity, Anker.
* Spalding 2nd team were also away to Bugbrooke. It was a highly competitive game between two fairly evenly matched teams with Bugbrooke winning.