Mansfield 1st XV 62 - 10 Spalding

What a difference a week makes

Last Updated: Sep 28, 2015 01:19pm
Oak Tree, Mansfield
By Phil Foster
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They say a week is a long time in politics. Well, it’s certainly true of rugby as well. After a disappointing loss at Southwell last week, Mansfield picked up the pieces and turned in a promising performance against a spirited Spalding side to restore some much needed pride.


Senior Coach Wayne Robinson was upbeat when he said, “The most pleasing thing was that we kept our structure and played the way we had agreed to play. It was a great effort and it was good to see our hard work pay dividends”.


Things got off to the best possible start, the home team up by 28 points within the first half an hour, securing a precious try bonus point in the process. However, a determined Spalding side, perhaps a little shell-shocked after the first quarter, would not go down without a fight and Mansfield were made to work hard for each remaining point.


The blue-and-white’s first try came after some stellar work in the scrum, the set piece working well for Mansfield all afternoon. Good scrum ball allowed good phase play to be implemented, resulting in Liam Annable crashing through just to the side of the posts. John Ross Ward slotted the conversion to give the home team maximum points, 7-0.


Match Day Sponsor John Heath’s Man of the Match Josh Hall was the next to dot down after more phases had been strung together. 10 minutes played and the home team were looking confident and assured with the ball in hand, something that had been sorely lacking in their previous two matches. Another successful conversion by Ward bought the score to 14-0.


Mansfield’s scrum dominance was evident throughout the afternoon but none more so than in disrupting a Spalding defensive scrum. This allowed scum half Lee Shaw to wrap up the Spalding ball carrier and ensure the forwards could regroup, steal the ball and release wing Emmanuel Ogunode to pick up the first of his hat trick with a neat sidestep. The conversion slotted bought the score to 21-0.


At this point Mansfield looked more like a team rather than a set of individuals. Players were playing in their preferred positions and decision making was sharper and more focused. This was evident in a try for Joe Symcox to bring the bonus point before the end of the first half hour. 28-0 after a successful conversion.


However, Spalding dug deep, regrouped and came back at Mansfield with some powerful rugby of their own. Mansfield started conceding penalties and Spalding took full advantage, slotting a penalty to get them on the board, 28-3.


Some scrappy play around the park mean the next 10 minutes were a stalemate. Mansfield were trying to find their rhythm again but Spalding had shored up their lines and were making ground, forcing Mansfield to go to extreme lengths to stop a score, Liam Annable sent to the sin bin for an infringement in the 22. 


However, a conceded penalty and some poor defence allowed the home team to pounce on loose ball, Jonathan Colley racing to score Mansfield’s 5th just before half time. Another successful Ward conversion saw the half time score read 35-3 to the blue-and-whites.


The second half saw Mansfield continue their improved performance and score a further 27 points. The scrum remained dominant, allowing good set ball for the backs to play with, something missing in previous weeks. Hall and Annable were in fine form, breaking through tackles and setting up good attacking position. 


A long injury break bought a halt to the proceedings during the second half, a clash of heads sending a man from each team to the floor. It’s always a worry to see lengthy injury breaks but, fortunately, both got up and seemed to be ok.


Consistency of possession and good, positive attacking play saw second tries for Symcox and Colley, a first for wing James Philips and the completion of Ogunode’s hat trick. Some uncharacteristic misses by Ward saw the score reach 62 and go no further, but with the sun bearing down into his eyes, those misses can be forgiven.


A yellow card for Philips in the closing minutes aside this will be surely not dampen the euphoria of scoring too in a much improved, more direct approach by the home team after not performing to their ability in the last two games.


Spalding scored a try of their own to bring their tally to 10, a disappointing result for a strong side who never stopped. Basic errors and a set piece that was prone to breaking appeared to not help their cause. No doubt the return fixture will be a tough prospect to face.


Mansfield First XV do not have a game this weekend as it is Provincial Cup weekend and the blue & whites have a ‘bye’ in the first round. The next game will be against Stamford away and you can follow then action on Twitter @MansfieldRugby.



Photo:  Josh Hall receiving the man of the match award from match day sponsor John Heath





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