Spalding 10 Casuals 24
By Lech Kluk
Casuals take over an hour to score their first try, then add 3 more to grab the win and yet another try bonus point,
16th February 2019
Midlands 3 East North
Spalding 10 Casuals 24
Casuals take over an hour to score their first try, then add 3 more to grab the win and yet another try bonus point, as Spalding fade. They now lead the league by 21 points from Ashfield, their next league opponents at Canalside.
Casuals sent yet another revamped side to 4th placed Spalding for round 16 of the league, and met a side fired up for the task, buoyed up by their well fed and watered spectators.
Spalding established a 10 point lead, despite Casuals dominating many phases. Not able to convert possession and territory into points, Casuals allowed Spalding to escape time after time.
Although the scrum functioned well, the lineouts misfired horribly, Casuals losing possession on their own throw, with the normally solid routines completely disrupted.
Move after move ended with a turnover due to loss of the ball, or the referee’s whistle intervening, with a string of penalties awarded against Casuals.
The game was also a tale of red and yellow cards, as the referee took exception to offences in the rucks, which may unfortunately be an indication of a lack of communication, with the players unsure of what sir required. Constant advice from the touchlines and shouting from the players may have influenced the decisions. (Please note “may” : we will never know)
The kick off was a maybe a clue of the forthcoming 50 minutes, as Spalding gathered their own kick, taking into Casuals’ 22, forcing a rear-guard action within seconds.
The first penalty to Spalding was moved down the line, a tactic that was repeated throughout the game.
The attack petered out on the 5 metre line as Casuals managed the turnover in the ruck, and Pete Underwood was able to take the ball 35 metres upfield, easing the early pressure.
Casuals then proceeded upfield, putting Spalding under pressure, and when they conceded a scrum penalty, Casuals kicked to touch.
They drove a maul from the lineout, but they managed to lose possession, regained it and then were penalised at the ensuing ruck, the first of many penalties at the breakdown.
Kris Jakuba then came close but was unlucky to knock on.
Casuals were guilty of some disjointed play for a few minutes, and Spalding moved to just short of Casuals’ try line, but their attack broke down when they knocked on.
Casuals were awarded a penalty, which again was put into touch, but the lineout was taken by Spalding, and another attack fell apart.
The first quarter passed without any score, with both sides making mistakes, making the game a very tight contest.
Casuals again moved back upfield, and again Jakuba made 30m before being bundled in to touch.
Graeme Roberts won the ball at the back of the line from the Spalding throw, but once again Casuals managed to lose possession in contact.
Stu Williams made a telling break from a lineout, but Casuals were again penalised during the move, but fortunately Spalding’s kick made little ground.
Roberts again grabbed possession at the rear of the line, but his run was halted by the referee whistle.
On the ½ hour, Spalding then had the misfortune to lose a player to a red card, the referee indicating he was guilty of stamping. Casuals lack of reaction would indicate there was possibly nothing spiteful intended.
Casuals were gaining some ascendency, but they still could not keep possession long enough to get the first score.
Yet another driven maul from a lineout was lost in the loose, and Casuals managed to concede yet another penalty.
Then to add to Casuals ire, a clearing kick failed to find touch, and Spalding broke down the wing to score in the corner, fortunately the conversion was way off target, as were several more Spalding kicks throughout the game. 5 nil to Spalding.
In the 38th minute captain Stu Williams was adjudged to gone off his feet in the ruck, and as the referee had by now blown for several penalties in the loose against Casuals, he was shown a yellow card, not pleasing him in the slightest.
To add to Casuals woes, Niall O’Kane was forced off with a facial injury, which prevented his return.
This led to Marcus Dimmock entering the fray, making his debut for the 1st team (Dimmock joining Casuals from Northampton Casuals after his move to study in Nottingham)
Half time came with Spalding having a slender lead to take into the 2nd half.
Spalding attacked off a loose clearance kick, and a simple move down the left wing gave them a try in the corner, score now 10 nil, and Casuals were not looking like the league leaders in any way, much to the joy of the local support.
Casuals were soon to silence them, as they began a fight back within 3 minutes.
Casuals played the advantage, Jakuba made some ground again, and Graeme Roberts stretched full length in the tackle, just managing to touch down.
Casuals then lost another player to yet another yellow card, Brodie Howatson being accused of an illegal tackle when he lifted up a Spalding player in a bear hug, which the referee disapproved of.
Forthwith he will be known as Brodie “Hugger” Howatson.
Spalding then failed to increase their tally with 2 more missed kicks at goal, much to Casuals relief.
Casuals then started to up the pressure. Graeme Roberts made a telling break, Jakuba kicked ahead, but with the line at his mercy, he contrived to knock on.
Casuals were awarded a penalty on 25 minutes, and decided to take the scrum, putting in a huge drive, and when the ball was eventually released, it got to Dan O’Connor, who superbly jinked through the defence, touching down close to the posts, giving Higgins a simple kick to put Casuals in front.
Jon Ackroyd put Casuals back on the front foot, sending Kieran Maisonnet away, but Casuals conceded a penalty, and a gave away a further 10 yards, not useful in the circumstances.
However Spalding were next to transgress, the referee producing the yellow card once more for another transgression in the ruck.
Question to be asked is why were there so many penalties at the ruck. Were the players ignoring the referee’s instructions, or simply there weren’t any. The game was very stop start, and becoming very frustrating, not only for the players, but for those who had travelled to watch.
36 minutes and Casuals were awarded 2 more penalties, taken as scrums, the second resulting in another massive shunt, pushing Spalding back at a rate of knots, and Stu Williams dropped on the ball as the scrum went over the try line.
3 tries in the bag, and Casuals confidence was soaring, as they were getting things together as Spalding had seriously faded by now.
Casuals forwards at last were showing their abilities.
Finally, as the game was drawing to its conclusion, and with Spalding being penalised very readily, Casuals decided to utilise their forwards dominance by taking yet another scrum from a penalty, which this time resulted in Higgins taking the ball from the base, bouncing defenders out of his way as he dived over for the bonus point try, adding the conversion to give Casuals another 5 league points to further increase their lead to 23 points over the joint second placed Ashfield and Belper. The result probably ended any hope of promotion for Spalding,now being 14 points adrift of 2nd place.
Some very happy faces from the Casuals’ contingent, and no doubt some relief they had overcome Spalding stubborness, but that is what takes to keep the wins coming then Casuals have to hold their nerve and concentration for a few more weeks.
Yann Moysey was voted Man if the match
Casuals have to get another 3 wins to be crowned champions, with 30 points at stake from 6 games there is all to play for.
Ashfield are Casuals’ next league opponents at Canalside in 2 weeks, but before that they face Ilkeston in the semi-finals of the NLD shield, at Casuals, kick off 2 p.m.
Casuals no doubt hope that several players become available for the run in, a few to return from injury, and others from holiday or work commitments.
1) Steve Baraniak (Amaury Montarnal)
2) Pete Underwood
3) Richard Gill
4) Kieran Maisonnet
5) Jon Ackroyd (Simon Roberts)
6) Graeme Roberts (Try)
7) Matt Standen
8)Stu Williams (C) (Try)
9) Mark Higgins (Try, 2 conversions)
10) Yann Moysey (Man if the match)
11) Kris Jakuba
12) Brodie Howatson (VC)
13) Niall O'kane (Marcus Dimmock)
14) Dan Clarke
15) Dan O'Connor (Try)
16) Amaury Montarnal F/R
17) Simon Roberts
18) Marcus Dimmock