Champions Spencer took a huge stride to retain their Premiership title with a 15-10 win over Hampstead.
The Men in Black made them fight all the way and were in front 7-6 at half time in another absorbing match-up at The Westway.
But Spencer’s resilience and ability to switch systems saw them claw back the lead and, powered by Will Walker’s five goals, claim the crucial points.
A win at Reading this Saturday would see them all but freak-mathematics as champions again.
Hampstead still have games in hand but look too far adrift to cause any nightmares at Earlsfield but facing the Wildcats will not be a formality as Paul Milner’s men are well schooled in causing upsets.
“The Hampstead game was cautious for us and we knew that a victory would put us in a commanding position. As always you do not know what team Hampstead were going to pull out,” said Spencer co-captain Joe Darkins.
“The game was end to end with lots of transition goals but we didn’t start at the usual pace we’ve come to expect this season. After trailing the game and correcting some of the team mistakes, the squad started connecting to score some really important goals and look more like previous games.
“The second half was controlled and we had many more chances to score than we converted. It was a great display to see the solidarity of the team come back from chasing the game to finish in a resounding victory. Credit goes to the whole team, with special mention to Will Walker for scoring some impressive goals from attack and Rob Arnott playing a great game in defensive short stick.”
Darkins refuses to start the party just yet, adding: “We are now in a great position but are taking every game as they come. Reading have had some impressive performances recently, like beating Hampstead, so we’re not taking anything for granted.”
But it could be a champagne fiesta at Earlsfield very soon as all three teams sit in top spot. The 2s look to have wrapped up E1 and the 3s set up the prospect of a remarkable treble by beating Hillcroft B last week to go top.
Blues kept up their steady climb up the table and now have an undefeated streak stretching back to December. They also remain a lurking threat to the Spencer machine in the Flags Final on April 9.
They fielded an under-strength team but managed beat Reading 13-10 in a tight game. The Wildcats jumped out to an early lead before Blues found a rhythm and the go ahead only for Reading to come back at them.
A time-out at 10-10 in the final quarter galvanized the visitors and it was the free-scoring Pete Ross who found the crucial goals for the win.
“We were missing key players and promoted a couple of second team players who really stepped up and showed what kind of grit we have as a club. Reading were worthy opponents in what was a great game.”
Elsewhere, Purley’s woes continue as they lost 11-2 at home to Hitchin and now look to a life-raft with two games against Bristol and East Grinstead who are also in the bottom five.
Hillcroft beat the Sussex side 12-8 to complete a tough few games for Andy Price’s team but they will be confident of beating Purley at home this Saturday and remaining outside the relegation dogfight.
Bath have secured the West 1 title and could face a resurgent Cambridge University who are splitting the superpowers’ second teams in 2nd place in East 1
Bristol Bombers v Hillcroft
Cardiff v Blues
East Grinstead v Purley
Spencer v Reading
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