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Spalding Rugby Club are beaten by Vipers in Counties 1 Midlands East (South)





A last minute try sent Spalding to defeat in Saturday's Counties 1 Midlands East (South) clash at Vipers.

The Elephants had looked on course for a deserved win at their Leicester hosts as they clearly edged the first half to go in at the interval with a nine-point lead.

Vipers then made good use of their strong pack of forwards and took the lead early in the second half, only for Spalding to fight back and go into the last minute with a two-point lead.

Action from Spalding’s defeat at Vipers on Saturday. Photo: John Constable
Action from Spalding’s defeat at Vipers on Saturday. Photo: John Constable

However, they were stung late on as, being a man short in the backs after fly half Willis Ingley received a yellow card, Vipers' right wing outpaced their defence to score in the 79th minute to snatch a 25-20 home victory despite a spirited Spalding team effort.

There had been further agony for Spalding after the opening minutes of the game.

Their forwards were smashing into Vipers' defence on their try line with a series of controlled pick and goes from the ruck but the home defence was solid.

The ball was spread along the backs to left wing Gav Sharman to outpace the cover defence and dive across the try line to score.

At the same time, a Vipers defender dived across smashing into Sharman's shoulder. After first aid attendance, he was escorted off in pain and on Sunday was in hospital for surgery.

Aaron Coupe slotted in at full-back with Sam Christie moving to the wing.

Action from Spalding's defeat at Vipers. Photos: John Constable
Action from Spalding's defeat at Vipers. Photos: John Constable

Spalding were up against a very strong Vipers pack and during the game just about held their own in the scrum.

Both teams were using their forwards to make inroads in the opposition's defence and Spalding's efforts were being led by captain Luke Turner, along with Alex Worth and Zokas Raimondas while flankers Will Shields and Fergus Mc Kerracher seemed to be everywhere, tackling anything that moved

Vipers had a man yellow carded for a high tackle and a successful penalty kick by Conall Mason was followed by Spalding not releasing in a tackle.

A few minutes later a high tackle was penalised and Spalding's lead was reduced to two points.

Towards the end of the first half, George Douglas towered high in a lineout with Turner having to throw-in due to absentees.

A driving maul was established which set up a position for the forwards to drive for the line and, after recycling from a couple of rucks, McKerracher squeezed himself over the try line, which was successfully converted.

Action from Spalding’s defeat at Vipers on Saturday. Photo: John Constable
Action from Spalding’s defeat at Vipers on Saturday. Photo: John Constable

Miguel Da Silva then received a yellow card just before the half-time whistle.

The opening minutes of the second half saw Vipers dominate through their forwards.

From a five metre scrum, the number eight picked up to drive over near the posts with the conversion being missed.

Three minutes later, Vipers, using the one man advantage, spread the ball to their right wing who kicked ahead and won the race for a try that was duly converted.

Vipers had edged themselves into a three point lead, but were hampered shortly afterwards as they lost a man to a yellow card, while Da Silva returned.

Scrum Half Jim Wraith was delivering some good balls from either the back of scrums or quick ball from rucks, giving fly half Ingleby time and room to set his backs running.

Action from Spalding’s defeat at Vipers on Saturday. Photo: John Constable
Action from Spalding’s defeat at Vipers on Saturday. Photo: John Constable

Inside centre Mason was the main beneficiary, coming onto the ball at speed on a number of occasions and punching holes in Vipers' defence by making metres across the gain line.

Quick ball along the backs then saw Adam Sutcliffe’s pass release speedster Christie who scored out wide. Spalding had regained a narrow two point lead with 20 minutes remaining.

It looked like Spalding had managed to hold out with both teams a man down to further yellow cards.

Vipers' pack was strong enough while a man down to maintain their full set of backs and, from the base of a scrum just inside Spalding's half, the ball was spread wide to their speedy right winger who outpaced the cover defence to snatch victory for the home team.

This was a valiant display by Spalding with a renewed team spirit. They were prepared to give their all, away from home, against a team higher in the league before having victory snatched away in the last minute.

Spalding need to carry their work ethic displayed against Vipers forward to Saturday's home game against Old Laurentians who are one place above them in the league.

Spalding: Miguel Da Silva, Ryan Medlock, Luke Turner, George Douglas, Zokas Raimondas, Fergus McKerracher, Will Shields, Alex Worth, Jim Wraith, Willis Ingleby, Ben Shields, Conall Mason, Adam Sutcliffe, Gav Sharman, Sam Christie. Subs: Petrus Schruwers, Aaron Coupe, Tom Parker.



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