Double Despair for Mansfield

Ilkeston 31 - 15 Mansfield

Last Updated: Mar 25, 2014 09:25pm
Oak Tree, Mansfield
By Phil Foster
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Double despair as Mansfield are defeated upon clouded hills


The end of the season is looming and due to the typically unpredictable British weather, the return fixture between Mansfield and Ilkeston served as a double header – league and cup – after numerous washouts left little option but to combine the two games.

Mansfield ran out 34-17 winners when the sides met earlier in the season at Eakring Road and would be looking to repeat that feat in order to have a chance to re-gain the 3 Counties Cup that they lost their grip of last season.

In a landscape encased in both natural beauty and industry, which would surely have left William Blake’s gifted hands wringing with excitement, the opening 2 minutes were a back-and-forth affair. Some solid defence from Mansfield kept the home side at bay and we were treated to our first real battle after 5 minutes with the first scrum.

This resulted in a penalty for the blue-and-white. However, further penalties would be rare as scrum domination belonged to Ilkeston all afternoon. A lively break through the middle of the park by Alan Symcox showed that Mansfield were ready to play. However a fumble in midfield stopped the momentum and this would sadly become an all-too-familiar sight over the next 80 minutes.

An Ilkeston turnover resulted in their first try dotting down after a handful of phases. In true spring style, clear skies had given way to ‘dark, satanic’ cloud and a fierce wind which made kicking difficult. The resulting conversation went wide and Ilkeston lead 5-0.

Mansfield replied in spectacular fashion Bobby Ogunde receiving the ball in his 22 and proceeding to set off on a mazy run that lead to some mesmerising interplay between backs and forwards. As they worked their way up the field to their opponents 22 Ilkeston managed to halt the momentum by getting the ball into touch. The resulting lineout saw Mansfield and catch drive in fine style to level the scores with a try of their own. The wind again played its part and the resulting conversion attempt went wide and with 5 apiece it was all to play for.

Yellow card for Alan Symcox followed and coupled with Ilkeston’s scrum dominance penalty after penalty ensued. It wasn’t long before the home side, despite some phenomenal defence by the visitors, recorded their second score as we approached the half hour – a penalty try. The conversion was slotted and the score was 12-5 to the home side.

A series of back-and-forth mistakes after the restart lead to another chance for Ilkeston’s scrum to show its power, the result being a third try just after the half hour mark. With the conversion slotted, bringing the score to 19-5, the yellow card proved to be costly, with 14 points leaked in 10 minutes.

The second half began with Mansfield, now with the wind at their backs, in fine form as they once again demonstrated some excellent team interplay that resulted in Ash Wills dotting down after 1 minute played. With Williams slotting the conversion, bringing the score to 19-12, it was all to play for once again.

A series of errors, in what was to become an error-strewn half for the blue-and-whites saw Ilkeston score a fourth try. The conversion was missed, leaving the score 24-12 to the home side. After a bright passage of play, spurred on by a driving maul and searing break by Adam Shaw, Mansfield were awarded a penalty. Opting for the posts, Williams deftly threaded it between the sticks to bring the score to 24-15.

However, a messy restart culminated in another powerful scrimmaging display and a fifth converted try from Ilkeston. With the conversion successful and time running out, Mansfield were now looking at a 16 point disadvantage entering the final few minutes. It wasn’t to be.

Mansfield host in form Kettering this weekend at Eakring Road, kick off at 3pm. You can follow the action on Twitter at @MansfieldRugby



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