MAULED: Spalding RFC were soundly beaten at Kettering. Photo by NIKKI GRIFFIN

Town’s toughest test proves to be mission impossible

Kettering RFC 58

Spalding RFC 0

It was always going to be tough for rock-bottom Spalding RFC at Midlands One East leaders Kettering on Saturday – and so it proved.

Town failed to register a point in what was widely recognised as their hardest game of the entire campaign and have now lost all of their six league games this season.

Much of the damage was done by the Kettering backs with a total of eight tries, with Spalding given a lesson in quick handling, passing and backing up the runner.

With just a few changes to the starting line-up from the previous week’s narrow defeat against Ilkeston, Town were looking to build on the improvements they showed.

Mark Haighton came in for Jeremy Darley at lock, Will Shields played at at scrum half in place of Rob Lucas and Ben Hoyles and Sion Williams formed a solid looking centre pairing with George Brown moving out to the wing.

In excellent rugby conditions, Spalding started well – showing determination and good organisation.

They could have gone ahead after only three minutes, but Dan Mackie saw his penalty kick fly the wrong side of the posts.

A few minutes later Pete Waudby had to leave the field with a leg injury and Jacob Hutson, the second team vice captain, came on as replacement for the rest of the match in the front row.

The injury jinx hit Spalding again on the quarter hour, when Ben Williams, playing number eight, left the field with damaged ribs. Jay Harwood came off the bench as replacement.

Some 20 minutes had passed with the scores still level, with Kettering supporters looking on in disbelief as Town matched the league leaders.

However, on the one occasion in the match that Spalding lost the ball against the head in a scrum, the hosts spread the ball out wide to their winger who scored in the corner for an unconverted try.

Realising Spalding’s defensive weakness out wide, some slick Kettering passing along their threequarters released their winger to run in a second try from 20 metres.

Town then held their own for the next 15 minutes, especially the forwards, who were retaining possession and driving forward. But just before half time a Kettering scrum in front of the Spalding posts resulted in the ball being passed to their outside centre, who burst through the defence for a converted try.

This was quickly followed by the Kettering winger going in for an unconverted try for a lead of 22-0 at half time.

In the second half Kettering’s greater experience and knowledge at this level began to count.

Realising that the Spalding pack was giving as good as it got and that their four first half tries had all come from their backs, a similar strategy was employed for the rest of the game.

Firstly, their centre scored when the ball was moved away from their scrum.

This was followed by the ball being moved delightfully along their line for the winger to score. The next try was a lovely chip ahead over Spalding’s heads for the full-back to run through, while the final backs’ try came from their left winger outstripping the defensive cover.

After all of their good forward work, the Spalding pack then began to tire – especially as the two scrum replacements had had to come on within the first few minutes of the match.

A quick tap penalty resulted in the Kettering pack driving over the line, followed minutes later by a pushover try for a final score of 58-0.

Of the Town positives, Shields had a good match at scrum half behind a pack of forwards who had held their own against the league leaders for most of the match.

Spalding RFC: Alex Ioannou (captain), Pete Waudby, Sam Cooke, Tom Duerden, Mark Haighton, Luke Scotney, Tim Waltham, Ben Williams, Will Shields, Dan Mackie, Ed Booth, Sion Williams, George Brown, Kieran Lake, Ben Hoyles, Jacob Harwood, Kieran Bailey and Jacob Hutson.

Results (11/10)

Derby 29 Bugbrooke 32; Huntingdon & Dis 13 Belgrave 3; Ilkeston 15 Bedford 13; Kettering 58 Spalding 0; Mansfield 30 Paviors 24; Market Rasen & Louth 32 Old Northamptonians 25; Newark 18 Syston 29.

Fixtures (18/10 – all 3pm)

Bedford v Kettering; Belgrave v Ilkeston; Bugbrooke v Huntingdon & Dis; Old N’tonians v Newark; Paviors v Rasen & Louth; Spalding v Mansfield; Syston v Derby.

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