Stags beaten for the first time

Spalding 16 Stevenage Town 12 EDF Energy Senior Vase, fifth round Stevenage Town suffered their first defeat of the season as they were knocked out in the fifth round of the EDF Energy Senior Vase at enterprising Spalding. For all their success this seaso

Spalding 16 Stevenage Town 12

EDF Energy Senior Vase, fifth round

Stevenage Town suffered their first defeat of the season as they were knocked out in the fifth round of the EDF Energy Senior Vase at enterprising Spalding.

For all their success this season, Stags can have no complaints at this result as they were given a salutary lesson in effective back play.

Spalding looked dangerous whenever they had possession while Stevenage were the opposite, wasting considerable amounts of ball by poor kicking, decision making and distribution of the ball.

This was a game when again the Stevenage pack were completely dominant in the tight scrums securing plenty of ball including taking several against the head.

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Despite this dominance in the set scrums, Stevenage were unable to always replicate this in the loose play and were guilty of conceding a number of turnovers themselves, which along with the poor kicking, helped to keep Spalding in the game.

Stags fell behind almost from the kick-off after Adam Amos had made an impressive run, which when the ball was recycled from the subsequent ruck saw the first awful pass of the afternoon resulting eventually in a penalty, which was easily converted.

Spalding doubled their lead after 14 minutes. This time Stevenage were pressurising the Spalding scrum but were unable to use the ball quickly enough and several poor passes later the ball was lost and a second kickable penalty was conceded.

Stevenage kept themselves in the game up to the 35th minute, mainly through the possession won in the set scrums, but they hardly looked a dangerous force.

Spalding extended their lead with the first try of the game, when they turned over Stevenage ball, worked it down the blind side and scored in the corner.

The visitors were given a lifeline when, on the stroke of half time, they threatened the Spalding line for the first time and after a series of drives, number eight Gareth Roberts emerged to score.

Spalding led 11-5 at half-time but they would have been disappointed that it was not more.

To all intents and purposes, Spalding sealed the game three minutes into the second half when they scored their second try.

Stevenage wheeled a Spalding scrum far more than 90 degrees, but the referee allowed play to continue and their scrum-half emerged with the ball on the Town side and scored in the corner.

Such was the trouble that Stevenage had stringing together any coherent moves, it took them more than 20 minutes in the half before they were able to play in the Spalding half of the field.

Stevenage looked at their most threatening when putting together short passing moves rather than trying long passes to stretch the play.

Stags enjoyed their best period of the game in the final 15 minutes and were rewarded with a penalty try when Spalding infringed to stop a certain pushover try.

Stevenage kept going to the end and could have snatched victory in the dying seconds, but it would not have been a deserved success.

Coach Terry Penny admitted afterwards he was disappointed with the result but that the best team on the day had won.

Town aim to maintain their 100 per cent league record when they entertain Twickenham this Saturday.

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