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Spalding Rugby Club are defeated by Daventry

Spalding were left to rue a big missed opportunity to inflict the first defeat of the season on unbeaten leaders Daventry in Saturday's Counties 1 Midlands (East) South clash.

The table-toppers ended up with just 11 players on the field, but the Elephants were unable to take full advantage and came away with nothing as Daventry hung on for a 20-12 victory.

The two sides had both won promotion together last term with Daventry starting the new season with four successive victories.

Gav Sharman went over for a try
Gav Sharman went over for a try

Spalding had won three of their opening four games and were expecting a tough and uncompromising afternoon - which was exactly how the game unfolded.

Daventry had lost a player to a red card just before half-time following a dangerous high tackle on centre Taylor Crowson who, after lengthy treatment from Spalding's physio Mark Johnson, returned to the game.

With Daventry just six points in the lead at this stage, Spalding were spreading the ball along the back line probing for a break in the home side's defence.

George Douglas crashed into the home team's defence, looking to set up a ruck, but the support play was slow to the breakdown and Daventry turned the ball over.

The home prop charged forward, evading three poor Spalding tackles, before offloading to support players and Daventry had their second converted try of the afternoon, having started the counter-attack from inside their 22, to lead by 13 points.

Spalding responded through their forwards with young Jack Grundy standing out with his determination, always gaining yardage and breaking tackles, alongside Miguel Da Silva who likewise could be counted upon to take the ball forward.

Spalding were now encamped deep inside Daventry territory, retaining possession, and, as the forwards drove, the home side offended at a ruck, drawing a yellow card and the hosts were down to 13 players.

The game was there for the taking and, with a clear advantage, Spalding went searching for the breakthrough.

Daventry were well organised, covering every move and challenging at every ruck, drawing another yellow card.

With the home side now down to 12 players, Spalding were in front of the posts and, with the scrum uncontested, a further offence by Daventry resulted in another yellow card, leaving them just 11 on the field for the remaining five minutes with Spalding needing a converted try to secure a losing bonus point.

With hardly any Daventry defence left standing, Spalding, instead of looking to score near the posts for any easy conversion, spread the ball wide and Gav Sharman touched down in the corner leaving Conall Mason a near impossible kick into the wind.

Earlier in the first half, Daventry had established a lead of seven points with a penalty kick to the five metre line which was followed by a well executed line-out move and later a successful penalty kick.

Spalding's score had come from a Mason penalty kick which rebounded off the post back into play, The visiting forwards re-gathered the ball, drove forward, and Will Shields emerged from under the pack for his try which was successfully converted.

Spalding: Sam Cowell, Tom Parker, Luke Turner, Miguel Da Silva, George Douglas, Ed Williams, Will Shields, Jack Grundy, Adam Sutcliffe, Willis Ingleby, Gav Sharman, Conall Mason, Taylor Crowson, Ryan Firth, Jack Patrick. Subs Reece Callaby, Macaulay Crane, George Brown.

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