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Mansfield 3 – 11 Southwell

Disappointing Start to the New Year for Mansfield

Last Updated: Jan 11, 2016 08:24pm
Oak Tree, Mansfield
By Phil Foster
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The first league game of the New Year saw Mansfield come off second best at Eakring Road to a determined Southwell team. The away fixture earlier in the year saw the teams separated by just a single point. This time, however, a mountain of penalties and a team seemingly struggling to break through saw a home performance as grey as the sky overhead.

Head coach Wayne Robinson was visibly frustrated at the final whistle: “We threw too much ball away and didn’t utilise the territory we had. Our decision making wasn’t sharp enough and we didn’t do what we needed to do to secure a bonus point.” 

The day started off well enough, the blue-and-whites registering the first points of the afternoon: a penalty slotted by fly half John Ross Ward. Unfortunately, those 3 points would be the sum total of Mansfield’s afternoon and the only time they would be in front. 

Southwell showed their own nervousness early on, a counterattack saw them with clear ground ahead but, instead of running the ball, a kick was put through which was ultimately too long, going dead in goal and allowing Mansfield to regather and clear their lines. 

Mansfield defended well for large parts of the game but offered little in way of coordinated attack. Good territory was lost either through conceding a penalty or turnover ball by the visitors. Many phases of possession saw too many isolated players taking ball forward, leaving the next phase hard to react to. Opportunities to gain momentum and push up the field were lost too often to gain any real momentum. 

Mansfield’s growing list of indiscretions saw Southwell register two penalties and an unconverted try to take their tally to 11, the final 3 points coming shortly after the break as Mansfield were yellow carded for a transgression at the ruck.

Frustrations were evident and tempers boiled over as both teams struggled to get a hold of the game. Mansfield were desperate for possession, Southwell were desperate to add to their tally. It was 11-3 to the visitors at the final score, the remaining 35 minutes of the second half being a stalemate that saw Southwell receive their own yellow card and Mansfield still battling for territory. 

With an eight point deficit, Mansfield were outside of bonus point range and, as it stood, were leaving with no points at all. However, in the last 5 minutes, the blue-and-whites received two penalties, both within kicking distance,that would have seen at least one point taken from the game, something that could have proven extremely useful in time. Unfortunately, a losing bonus point seemed to not be at the forefront of the team’s collective mind, instead choosing to utilise other tactics that yielded nothing. 

Given the progress made before the Christmas break this will be viewed as a disappointing result. Mansfield undoubtedly have the individual talent and can be a very good side. However, more cohesion was required as was witnessed beginning to develop before the Christmas period and together with a slew of missed opportunities meant that a losing bonus point was not secured either.  

Next week, Mansfield travel to Spalding. You can follow the action on Twitter @MansfieldRugby.

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