Following the late cancellation of the 1XV game, a good crowd turned out to support Spartans with their strengthened team on a cold day at Marble Hill Park. The crowd may not have seen the try fest which they were hoping for, nonetheless they got a tense game in which Spartans showed great resilience and a masterclass in forward set piece play.
After a bizarre chat with the ref, the game got underway to a slightly nervy start for Spartans at the back, however they gathered momentum and as they opted to keep the ball in hand more and more they began to look more dominant. It was clear from an early stage in the game that the Spartan pack had come out firing and set pieces were very much a one way affair – with Spartans winning all their balls at both the scrum and the line out and winning many against the head. Kev seems to have cemented his place as prop for the rest of the season.
Being led from the front, Spartans were camped out in the Kilburn half for the majority of the second quarter. As the half came to a close both teams were yet to trouble the scoreboard – this is despite several fantastic breaks by Kieran at Fly Half, who on at least two occasions ran half the pitch and then tripped over/ dropped the ball within 10 metres of the try line. There were murmurs of bribery and match fixing but these are unconfirmed.
In one of the last plays of the half, the Spartan back line strung together their most promising attack in the Kilburn 22. The ball was spun out to Jacko on the wing who made a dash for the line but was taken down one meter out by a scramble Kilburn defence.
Half time came just in time for Kilburn and the scoreboard read 0-0.
The second half proved much more eventful, with the Spartan pack once again dictating the terms. They strung together multiple driving malls at the beginning of the half, making great ground each time and eventually drove over the Kilburn line and Nick Green touched down for the first try of the game. Kieran added the two points and Spartans were up 7-0
After the try, Spartan defences were repeatedly tested for the remainder of the half as Kilburn fired back looking to equalise. The Spartan defending was up to the onslaught though and Kilburn couldn’t find a way through.
As the game progressed into the final quarter, Spartans looked more dominant than ever and were knocking on the door for try number two. There were then a couple of potentially game changing incidents. Firstly, Kieran got put in the sin bin. Naturally this further heightened the rumours of bribery and match fixing, but more pressingly Spartans were left without their key fly half. Five minutes later Nick hit the deck with his foot at a right angle to where it normally sits with a fairly serious break. The crowd let out a groan on seeing his foot and it was clear his game was over.
At this point the decision was made to play the final 20 mins on an adjacent pitch instead of waiting for the ambulance to come. Spartans had 20 minutes to hold out, down to 14 men and with the site of Nick’s ankle firmly lodged in their minds.
The final quarter was incredibly cagey but Spartans managed to see out the game for a fantastic win to start the New Year. It was a gritty and attritional game but it was a fantastic team performance by Spartans, very much lead by the forwards. Furthermore the game was won despite leaving two subs on the bench with over a century of experience between them – no doubt their presence alone inspired the team to see out the game so many thanks to Bart and JD.
1.C Mike, 2.Banner, 3.Newey, 4.Hightower, 5.Bruno, 6.Ben Walker, 7.Hugo, 8.Nick Green, 9.Callum, 10.Kieran, 11.Jacko, 12.Goose, 13.James Goldwin, 14.Jake, 15.Ben Lee
Subs: Tramp, Colm, Rich Walker, Bart, Jonathan Dunn
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