Sleaford Spartans 32
Hope Valley Hawks 30
Hope Valley started brightly, with winger Elliott scoring out wide 0-4. From the restart they pressurised again, forcing Sleaford to concede a penalty.
Good running from Shaw and Hopkinson gained ground, and Shires in support set up Boam for the second 0-8. The Hawks kept up the pressure through Elliott and Boam, with Muller coming on for his debut to replace Meek. Sleaford cut the deficit to 4-8 after a good period of possession. The Hawks tackled strongly through Wells and Muller, forcing Sleaford into touch. Valley kept possession and good running from Hopkinson set up Evans for a try, converted by McGuigan 4-14.
More Hawks pressure from Hein La Grange saw Sleaford penalised, and again Valley capitalised, with skipper Shires scoring and McGuigan converting 4-20. On the stroke of half time Sleaford scored a breakaway try to make it 8-20 at the interval.
The second half started brightly, with a kick through being knocked on by the hosts. From the resulting scrum Shires pounced for his second try, again converted to make it 8-26. From the restart Mylnek, another player on debut, made good yardage.
But progress was halted by Sleaford on the break, to narrow the gap to 14-26. The home side were in the ascendancy, getting another try to narrow the gap to 20-26. Woodall yet again showed his tackling prowess, halting a Sleaford attack in its tracks.
A great break from Elliott and Shaw saw Shires score yet again 20-30. The home side were not to be outdone, and scored twice in quick succession to make it 28-30. The Hawks were beginning to tire, and Sleaford scored again to take the lead for the first time 32-30. Good running from Winder and McGuigan saw the Hawks held up just short of the Sleaford line, and so the Hawks suffered a narrow defeat.
This Saturday, the Hawks host Sleaford at Castleton for the return fixture, 2.30pm ko.