Sleaford RFC went into their final match of the 2015-16 league campaign placed 10th, knowing that they only had to better Boston’s result to avoid relegation.
Determined not to rely on Boston doing them a favour, Sleaford came out of the blocks quickly. Despite being starved of possession, Sleaford’s dogged defence stood firm, rebutting wave after wave of Ashby runners.
Eventually Sleaford managed to get their hands on the ball for a prolonged period and a smart cut-out pass sent Titmus rampaging down the right touchline. Titmus fed Hodgson, in support from the left wing, to go over for the first score of the game, converted by Harley.
Ashby responded shortly after. After a sustained period of pressure the so-far-resolute Sleaford defence eventually cracked, a neat line-out move resulting in an unconverted try out wide.
Sleaford didn’t hang about in counterpunching. Stobart found Gunter in midfield, with the delayed pass allowing Gunter to stroll over untouched. Harley added the extras to give Sleaford a 14-5 lead at half time.
Sleaford were determined not to let this lead slip. The pack continued to prove disruptive at the breakdown and from a resultant turnover the ball was flung wide to Downing who showed soft hands in releasing Spencer to dash over, rounding the full back en-route.
Sleaford continued to press forward, knowing that a fourth try (and the bonus point) would ensure all mathematical possibilities were covered in terms of the relegation battle.
Davies bulldozed his way over from close range following surging runs from his fellow forwards. Harley nudged the extras to give Sleaford a hefty 26-5 lead with only 15 minutes to play.
Ashby went over from a driving maul in the left hand corner to bring the gap back to within two scores for a tense finale.
Ashby threw absolutely everything at the Sleaford line for the remaining five minutes but to no avail.
Whilst this brought the first XV’s season to a close, the social XV are in action at Ruskington Road on Saturday, facing West Norfolk at 3pm.
Sleaford: Woollas, Cockcroft, Davies, Downing, Loveday, Gunter, Bradwell, Pocklington, Harley, Wells, Titmus, Stobart, Dores, Spencer, Padley. Subs: Holiday, Hodgson.