Spalding RFC’s talented under-16 side gave a great account of themselves at the annual youth rugby festival in Bournemouth.
Town’s teens were in a group with Bournemouth, Kent county champions Sidcup and Windsor in what was a round robin style tournament.
First up was a showdown with Windsor, a game played amid driving rain and gusty winds. In the dire conditions there were mistakes by both sides and the half finished scoreless.
Spalding improved after the break and good pressure from captain Tom Birdseye saw a turnover. Quick play from the forwards saw the ball reach James Thomas, before great hands from the backs allowed Adam Castle to go over at pace under the posts. The try was converted.
Fine play from JJ Faulkner then allowed Castle to cut inside and score again, completing a 14-0 win.
Next up were the much-fancied Sidcup, who fielded a massive side.
Despite great individual tackling from Spalding’s Fraser Leiper and Will Fletcher, they soon found themselves 10-0 down.
However, strong runs from Chis Emery at prop and Mark Hendy on the wing put Sidcup under pressure in their 22. This allowed Spalding to score, as a charged down kick found Castle – and he outsprinted the defence and touched down for a 10-7 half time turnaround.
Town carried their momentum into the second period and went close through Faulkner and Tristan Whincup, but Sidcup secured another try after consistent pressure in the Spalding 22.
Great defensive tackling from Birdseye and Hal Whyatt, who later went of injured, prevented a sure try, but a quick pick up saw them under the posts for a final score of 17-7 to Sidcup.
That left Spalding needing to beat hosts Bournemouth to finish runners up in the competition, as Sidcup went unbeaten.
However, with a depleted side they struggled to get to grips with their opponents and slipped to a 29-0 loss.
Despite the disappointing ending, Town can be happy with their showing.
Castle was named Town’s man of the tournament with his defensive tackling and three tries, while best water carrier awards went to big Pete Waltham and Harry Wilkinson Roberts, who were injured but cheered the lads on.
Spalding’s next game is against West Norfolk next week, with the season coming to an end at the Norfolk 7s at the end of April.
Touring Spalding RFC under-16 squad: Fraser Leiper, Chris Emery, Tom Birdseye, Tristian Whincup, Hal Whyatt, James Thomas, Mark Hendy, Will Morgan, JJ Faulkner, Jack Whadcock, Ciaran Thompson, Adam Castle, Pete Waltham, Harry Wilkinson Roberts, Will Fletcher, Luke Jones, Cory Lewis and Ollie Johnson.