Drama at Burnt Stump Park

Paviors 1st XV 29 - 20 Mansfield 1st XV

Last Updated: Feb 16, 2015 05:12pm
Oak Tree, Mansfield
By Andy Miles
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Following last week’s victory ending a nine game losing run stretching back to early November, Mansfield travelled to local rivals Paviors with real hope of stretching further away from the relegation zone. Pre match was once more frustrated as injuries again prompted late changes to the starting XV. A clearly frustrated Head Coach Neil Stent was in reflective mood, “I’m rueing what might have been to be honest. Our defensive performance whilst down to thirteen men was great but in the end we are disappointed not to get anything from the game as thought we deserved at least a bonus point”.

The visitors got the Valentine's Day proceedings under way under heavy winter skies encompassing at least fifty shades of grey! The home side gathered the kick eventually winning a free kick from the scrum as Mansfield are penalised for not driving straight, a theme to be repeated throughout the afternoon as the blue and white struggled at the set piece. 

Paviors kicked to touch and proceeded to win the ball on the Mansfield throw only to then concede possession at the break down. In their desperation to retain the ball Paviors were penalised giving John Ross Ward a relatively straight forward kick at goal which was gratefully accepted, Mansfield three points in front with five minutes played.

Paviors then kicked out on the full giving Mansfield more possession deep in opposition territory. The good work was almost immediately undone as first the line out was adjudged not straight and then the blue and white scrum struggles and is again penalised. 

Paviors were enjoying the better of both territory and possession in what can best be described as an error strewn phase of the game with both captains receiving warnings for persistent infringement. The referee's patience finally broke on 20 minutes with a yellow card for Mansfield lock Aiden McGregor. This was to prove decisive as Pavs opt for a scrum from the penalty which their already dominant pack converts into seven points, 7-3 with 22 minutes on the clock. 

Worse was to follow as Paviors prosper from their numerical advantage regaining the ball from the restart and pushing play back to the Mansfield five metre line. Quick ball from the breakdown is transferred to back line for the winger to score in the opposite corner, conversion again good makes the score 14-3. 

Despite their numerical disadvantage the visitors regrouped taking the game to Paviors. A penalty infringement and a second warning for the Paviors captain resulted in an attacking line out on the twenty two. Ball secured, Josh Hall sets off towards the Paviors ably supported by prop Tom Key impressing on his first team debut. Held up short, ball is released to the backs where quick feet from centre Callum Wood takes him to within inches of a score. The impressive Josh Hall picks up and releases scrum half Alan Symcox for the score, a successful conversion brings the blue and whites back to within four points. 

Restored to full complement Mansfield continued to apply pressure; a clever box kick from Symcox was agonisingly close to being claimed by Phil Donaldson. Yet another Mansfield infringement at scrum-time allowed Paviors to restore a seven point lead. Mansfield had opportunity to narrow the gap but the usually reliable Ward this time scuffs the kick, half time score 17-10. 

The second half saw the introduction of Andy Simms and Ellis Keegan in the forwards but this did nothing to change the balance up front where Paviors continued to dominate. Russ Coleman made a welcome return to first team action following a long injury lay off as Fly Half Alex Miles left the field. Paviors further extended their lead on fifty minutes as once again they turned over the ball at scrum-time releasing their speedy winger who took advantage of a disorientated defence. 

Paviors were now on top, Mansfield failed to collect a chip over the defence allowing the winger in for another score, conversion missed the score was now 29-10 with fifty minutes on the clock. Things were looking ominous for the blue and whites as the referee finally lost patience with the scrum, yellow carding replacement prop Simms. 

Paviors continued to dominate the fourteen men of Mansfield but an organised defensive effort kept them out. Clear frustration from the visitors came to the fore on 65 minutes when Symcox spoke out of turn and was given ten minutes reflection. Now down to thirteen the blue and whites continued to defend manfully, a fourth team warning for Paviors finally resulted in a yellow card for them on 72 minutes, two minutes later parity was restored as Simms returned to the fray. 

A second yellow card for Paviors for a dangerous tackle on half way gave John Ross Ward the chance to clear the ball to home five metre line. A catch and drive from the line out was eventually touched down by Symcox restored from the bin, conversion missed now 29-15 with six minutes injury time to play. 

The blue and whites reclaimed the restart with captain Donaldson leading the charge up field. Excellent ball retention and recycling with the outstanding Hall again in support eventually resulted in a score for Andy Simms. A hastily taken conversion which would have secured a losing bonus point was unsuccessful, score now 29-20. 

Deep into injury time there was to be one final twist. A now rampant Mansfield once again reclaimed the restart and set off towards the Paviors line, a break down just inside the home half on the last play saw tempers fray with the Paviors centre seeing red for a clear punch, reducing the home side to twelve. The break in play gave the home defence the chance to regroup and denied the blue and whites the opportunity of a quick tap and the possibility of claiming two bonus points. The option was a long range attempt at goal and the single losing bonus point. A superb strike from Coleman looked to be successful only to agonisingly clip the inside post falling the wrong side of the horizontal. Paviors greatly gathered the loose ball to touch down and bring proceedings to an end. 

Things don't get any easy next week as the blue and whites make the long trip to play-off chasing Bedford Athletic, kick off 14:15, you can follow the @MansfieldRugby.


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