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Lack of Killer Touch Proves Costly

Spalding 9 - 8 Mansfield

Last Updated: Jan 19, 2016 05:49pm
Oak Tree, Mansfield
By Andy Foster
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Mansfield travelled to Spalding in confident enough mood following a convincing home victory against the Lincolnshire outfit in October but in the end they were unable to deliver the knockout blow when it mattered. 

Head Coach Wayne Robinson remained positive when he said, “the good news is that we are creating chances and that is a real step in the right direction, but there were times today when the last pass didn’t find its target and that made all the difference”. 

True enough and an observation that wasn’t lost on both sets of supporters as each held their breath for different reasons on two occasions awaiting the final outcome. Sadly for the visitors, for the first opportunity, the final pass was dropped and for the second, the pass went inside to a supporting player who was covered rather than to the outside player who had a clear path with 25 metres to go and a clear line. 

Mansfield started well enough and although the enjoyed some early territory it was the home side who registered the first score after 4 minutes with a well struck penalty taking the lead at 3-0. 

A few minutes later John Ross Ward had the chance to equalise but the ball sailed agonisingly wide. It was to be on the stroke of half time before he would be given another opportunity to trouble the scoreboard with a penalty kick. 

The visitors only try, which was the solitary try of the game, came after some great work by the forwards especially at scrum time and although one foray that really had Spalding on the back foot ended with the aforementioned dropped ball, this time there was to be no mistake. 

On the half hour mark the forwards had enjoyed a period of sustained pressure over their counterparts and a couple of scrums resulted in breaking off for repeated and punishing drives. From a final thrust the ball was whipped out to the grateful arms of Ollie Stamford who sprinted over in the corner to take his team into the lead at 5-3. 

Not to be outdone, Spalding really began to show their resolve and what happened next was to be a precursor to much of the second half. With 3 minutes of normal time to play a period of sustained pressure brought the reward they sought as a penalty took them 6-5 into the lead again. 

However, there was one final twist before the first half ended. Before the home side were able to press home their advantage as the second half unfolded it was Mansfield who had the final say of the first stanza with the aforementioned penalty from John Ross Ward which helped to regain the lead for the final time for the visitors at 8-6. 

With the second half under way, for the first 20 minutes there was no doubt that Mansfield had enough possession to secure a win but it turned out to be a tale of missed opportunities in the final analysis.  

For their part, Spalding displayed a great amount of resolve and endeavour to stick with their plan and 20 minutes into the second half they were able to retake the lead with a penalty after two earlier attempts had gone astray. 

With the score at 9-8 to the home side they now had to simply hang on to that slender lead and for the blue & whites their task was to try and win back vital territory and possession to regain the advantage. However, whilst they managed to achieve the latter they could not secure the former, as most of the final quarter of the game was played in the visitors half.  

Manful defence coming from every member of the team spearheaded by the evergreen Terry Davies kept the Memorial Field’s finest and their most ferocious attacks at bay, and even though they enjoyed a territorial advantage they were not able to extend their lead. 

Mansfield showed plenty of vim and vigour but couldn’t get themselves into the right part of the field making any penalties awarded at least worth a shot at goal. Spalding took the spoils by a point and Mansfield had to be satisfied with a losing bonus point. Apologies from the author but, hackneyed though the statement is, that point may very well come in handy come the day of reckoning! 

Mansfield host Stamford RFC at Eakring Road this weekend. Kick-off is at 2:15pm and you can follow the action on Twitter @MansfieldRugby.

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