Mansfield Give League Leaders a Scare

Mansfield 6 - 26 Peterborough Lions

Last Updated: Dec 11, 2013 07:24pm
Oak Tree, Mansfield
By Andy Foster
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Peterborough Lions travelled to Eakring Road in a justifiably confident mood having had a ‘perfect’ season thus far by winning all twelve games and accruing maximum bonus points.

However, in Mansfield they found a tough uncompromising opponent that refused to take a backward step and led until the final minutes of the first half.

The blue & whites came into the game having lost six players to injury in the previous 48 hours and to their credit each incoming player stepped manfully up and rose to the challenge.

The early exchanges were fiercely contested by both sides and the official needed to have his wits about him as each forward pack tested the each other to the limit. As the first quarter drew to a close it was still stalemate on the scoreboard but Mansfield had certainly edged the contest in terms of territory.

Early forays by John Ross Ward attacking from Fullback kept the defence honest. Rob Broadhurst pressed into action on the Wing and who later finished the game in the Second Row, enjoyed an excellent afternoon. However, the game was developing into a thoroughly entertaining forward exchange and the pressure exerted by the home pack took its toll as Jonathan Williams put his side in the lead with a well struck penalty after 23 minutes.

With the deadlock broken Mansfield kept up the pressure and were rewarded with a further penalty just two minutes later as Jonathan Williams extended the lead to 6 nil. As the game approached the half hour mark Adam Shaw was at his brilliant best sniping and attacking at every opportunity and the match day sponsor, Michael LXX’s, Man of the Match Joe Symcox proved to be a thorn in the side of the opposition all afternoon.

Peterborough Lions are a side not used to losing and their resolve was being tested to the limit as Josh Hall and Danny Ellis together with Alan Symcox and Ian Coleman stood firm. To their credit, the Lions held everything together and their talented Fly Half, who had an excellent game, exposed the soft underbelly of Mansfield’s defence in the final minutes of the half to ghost through unopposed and put his side in the lead 7-6.

Just five minutes into the second half, the visiting Fly Half again showed his class with a deft chip ahead for his midfield runners to pounce on and extend the lead to 12-6. After eight minutes a strange incident involving the opposition Touch Judge, in a moment of madness, saw the official sent from the field after an altercation with Number 8 Alan Symcox. In a bizarre twist the same individual then appeared back on the field as a player some fifteen minutes later. All very odd but nonetheless entertaining!

During the interim period the opposition pack had a series of scrums close to the Mansfield line and made each count as they drove the home backwards crashing over the line bringing the score to 19-6.

Despite this the blue & whites pressed on with energy sapping carries from Alan Symcox ably assisted by Liam Grant, Chester Scott and Skipper Phil Donaldson. In the face of this the Lions defence held out quite superbly and Mansfield, try as they may, just couldn’t get across the line. After 28 minutes the Lions recycled the ball quickly and went over for their bonus point try in the corner bringing the score to 26-6.

Youngster Scott Bailey came on as replacement and ended a potential Lions breakout with a superb cover tackle as the visitors threatened again. The Cambridgeshire side left worthy winners and will no doubt remember their first ever visit to Eakring Road as mutual respect was earned in a thrilling afternoon of rugby.

Perhaps fittingly the final word came from Joe Symcox, who was at his rumbustious best all afternoon, as he broke from his own 22 beating off would be tacklers to take play 40 metres up field. The move finally ended as the last pass went astray but for the enthralled crowd it meant the game had ended as it started which was thoroughly absorbing.

Mansfield are at home again this weekend as they face Matlock. Kick-off is 2:15pm and you can follow the action on Twitter, just go to @MansfieldRugby.

Photo: File pic


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