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Mansfield lose out in final play

Mansfield 23 Derby 24

Last Updated: Nov 5, 2013 04:22pm
Oak Tree, Mansfield
By Club Reporter
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A squally pre-match shower did nothing to dampen the spirits as a thoroughly entertaining afternoon was about to unfold with the improving blue & whites taking on Derby who have earned a second place berth in the league after two months played.

With the game under way the elements gave way to a largely dry but breezy afternoon at Eakring road. Derby kicked off into the wind and a spectacular take by Alan Symcox at his bootstraps saw him, in a tumbling roll, present the ball for the first of many well supported forays into the visitor’s half.

Having spent ten minutes in opposition territory, with a scrum penalty apiece the only transgressions, Mansfield were then penalised for feeding at the scrum. The visitors wasted no time at all and immediately hacked the ball up field which allowed their speedy Winger to show his pace, gather the ball and score their first try of the game. The extras were added and Mansfield found themselves seven points adrift having dominated large parts of the early exchanges.

This profligacy spurned the home side on and within two minutes, match day sponsor Lee C Dowdall Wealth Management’s, Man of the Match Jonathan Williams had given his side three points with a superbly struck 45 metre penalty to bring the score to 3-7.

The Derby restart went straight out and from the ensuing scrum the Mansfield back line handled deftly resulting in an Ash Wills score in the corner. Jonathan Williams added the two pints on offer and Mansfield had taken the lead 10-7. Further pressure from Mansfield attacks earned another penalty in front of the posts on the 22 which Jonathan Williams took full advantage of to extend the lead to 13-7.

The scrummage was being managed wisely by the Mansfield pack, not often on the front foot, but competitive and quick to get the ball away when in difficulty. Adam Shaw made a characteristic break only to be stopped just short of the line.

The visitors are not second in the league by accident and a smartly taken tap & go penalty on their 22 saw them have the last scoring word of the half with a well worked try and conversion to retake the lead 13-14. This move also saw the normally unimpeachable Ian Coleman, somewhat harshly yellow carded, meaning Mansfield would start the second half a man down.

The yellow card situation meant that Flanker Josh Hall had to make way for front row specialist Danny Ellis just five minutes into the second half. The home scrum dominated here and the forward pack shoved their opponents off the ball in emphatic style. Mansfield’s yellow card had just expired when it was Derby’s turn to court the wrath of the Referee as this time their Prop was sent for ten minutes contemplation.

The final quarter saw Derby pick up the pace and break out for a try taking the score to 13-19. Mansfield responded superbly with waves of concerted attack in the form of the ‘pick and go’ and then spreading the ball wide but staunch defence meant they were denied.

Shortly after, drama ensued from one such attack which resulted in a penalty and Mansfield opted for the scrum. Derby were unable to field a front row and the scrum was deployed as ‘uncontested’ much to the bemusement of the home crowd. From this the visitors were able to clear the threat. This was followed by a further yellow card against Derby for a deliberate knock on by the No.7.

Mansfield were able to take full advantage as Joe Symcox scored in the corner, but only after the official consulted his Touch Judges. Jonathan Williams summoned up an impressive touchline conversion giving Mansfield back the lead at 20-19 with just ten minutes left to play.

Derby earned their third yellow card of the half and in time added on Jonathan Williams slotted a further 40m penalty into the wind and the game looked all but over as Mansfield led 23-19. However, the final twist saw Derby’s tap and go penalty set up a driving maul, which had been a very effective part of their game throughout, to snatch try and regain the lead 23-24 ending a good contest.

Mansfield visit Huntingdon & District this weekend. Kick-off is 2:15pm and you can follow the action on Twitter, just go to @MansfieldRugby.

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