The top of the table clash between Oakham and Spalding at The Showground lived up to expectations with a thrilling match between the two league giants.
Oakham’s attacking options were immediately reduced as Tom ‘The Locksmith’ Burton picked up a calf strain in the warm up, which left club glassman Adam Varley to fill in on the wing.
With an undefeated record, Spalding looked strong entering the match. However, an intense start from the locals unpicked their defence.
A well-worked backs move combined with James Beanland’s soft hands left the Spalding defence in no man’s land, with George Reid thundering into the corner for the only try of the game.
Spalding retaliated with some strong running lines targeting the Oakham outside halves.
Soft tackling from Mark Matthews led to Ryan Chappell breaking the line and putting Oakham under significant pressure, which eventually led to a soft penalty for hands in the ruck.
Three points simply slotted reduced the deficit to four.
Not long after, South African-born Carel Fourie found himself on the wrong side of the law, resulting in three more points for Spalding and 10 minutes in the bin.
Oakham replied with some good phases and rumbling runs by Tom Armstrong and Spalding eventually crumbled when a chip from Matthews forced the visitors’ second row to trip Adam Stimpson’s dangerous running line.
With both teams fielding 14 players and Matthews slotting the penalty, it was 10-6 to Oakham at half time.
Spalding came out hard in the second half, with strong runs from the menacing Harry Sharman.
Soft penalties and accurate kicking pushed Spalding into a 12-10 lead with 15 minutes to go.
Oakham bounced back with aggressive defence from the pack eventually damaging the Spalding armoury, resulting in the loss of the visitors’ talismanic captain, Sharman.
A quick penalty from Tom Lemon pushed the Oaks into the lead, as they went into the final 10 with the score tight at 13-12.
However, two more silly penalties and a good boot from the Spalding fly half left Oakham chasing a try in order to get something from the game with five minutes to go.
This ultimately left the locals with no choice but to risk a cheeky crossfield kick in the final play.
Sadly Matt Dalton couldn’t quite take it cleanly, and as the ball fumbled into touch, Spalding let out a loud roar of relief having clung on to their undefeated record.