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Mansfield 23 – 17 Sleaford

Mansfield emerge the victors after hard fought match

Last Updated: Nov 21, 2016 07:18pm
Oak Tree, Mansfield
By Phil Foster
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Mansfield’s home form continued on Saturday as another impressive display saw them emerge victorious at Eakring Road. After a hard fought loss to league leaders Lincoln a fortnight ago, the blue-and-whites made sure a repeat performance was not on the cards against a determined Sleaford team. 

Head Coach Wayne Robinson was pleased with the performance but feels there’s still more development to come: “I’m very happy with the win, but the payers and I all feel that we could have stretched the lead at times with the amount of territory we had.” 

The game didn’t start off in the best way possible, a couple of penalties conceded meant Sleaford were able to put some phases together and put pressure the home line. Pressure they did, a penalty 15m out from the try line saw a quick tap and go yield the first try of the game. There wasn’t much the defence could do about it, you have to be 10 metres back before you can touch an opposing player, a law the Sleaford attack deftly exploited. A successful conversion saw the visitors lead 7-0. 

A penalty for the home side saw them reduce the lead to 4 points as Jon-Ross Ward slotted the kick between the posts to get Mansfield on the board. 

For much of the first half, Sleaford enjoyed dominance in the scrum, driving the blue-and-whites off their own ball on a couple of occasions. Credit to the pack, they realised this area wasn’t their strong point and managed to get the ball away as quickly as possible. 

One such occasion saw Ricky Wild receive the ball before setting off on a mazy, 30 metre sprint. A sublime pass to flanker Emmanuel Ogunode up in support saw him sprint the remaining 30 metres brushing off a desperate defensive effort to score under the posts. A successful conversion from Ward saw the home team take the lead 10-7. 

Both teams showed intent to play and had their chances to break through determined defences. However, a dropped ball here and a wayward kick there meant that chances to add to the score were being missed. 

It was the visitors who altered that, a break through the home defence leading them to a try to put them back in the lead. A spot of Lady Luck with this one, perhaps, but Sleaford managed to work that position through determination and drive so was not undeserved. A missed conversion meant the slenderest of leads, 12-10 to the visitors. 

That seemed to galvansise the blue-and-whites who, after trying a deft kick over the defence numerous times, saw one attempt pay off with Full Back Ollie Stanford chasing and gathering the ball over the line to put the home team back in front. A successful conversion by Ward saw Mansfield back in the lead at 17-12 as the half time whistle blew.

The second half was a more even affair, a stalemate in the middle of the park meant that any possession was priceless. Mansfield’s only points in this second half came from two Ward penalties to take their final tally to 23. Sleaford’s own points haul in this half was 5 in total through a try scored while flanker Bobby Ogunode was forced to take a 10 minute break courtesy of the Referee. An unsuccessful conversion didn’t alter the fact that by being within 7 points of the winning score a losing bonus point was claimed by the visitors. 

Whilst the second half was low scoring, it was not uneventful. Both teams were desperate to carve out field position and find a way to unlock dogged defences. The Mansfield pack in particular, with returning second row Bruce Arnold and Match day Sponsor Maguire Training’s Man of the Match Phil Pogmore securing and turning over ball in the ruck, a skill that goes unseen by many but is crucial to any forward pack’s game plan. The scrum evened out in the second half, Mansfield managing to get some cleaner ball and more time to use it.  

Still, Mansfield maintained their composure to emerge victorious, a 23-17 victory over an impressive visiting side is an early Christmas present everyone can enjoy. 

Next week, Mansfield travel to Rolls Royce and KO is 2:15pm. You can follow the action on Twitter, @MansfieldRugby.


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