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Mansfield Return to Winning Ways

Last Updated: Oct 13, 2014 08:25pm
Oak Tree, Mansfield
By Phil Foster
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Mansfield returned to winning ways on Saturday with a hard fought and gritty win over local rivals Paviors RFC at Eakring Road. The last time these two met was the Country Cup final at the end of last season. Mansfield were the victors in that game by the narrowest of margins, just two points, so Paviors came to Eakring Road fired up.

The visitors didn’t disappoint and within 10 minutes they were 10-0 up, courtesy of a kick at goal and a well taken try. Mansfield were making ground up the park before a turnover saw Paviors gather the ball and break some through some questionable tackles to score.

The next few minutes saw a very even contest between the two, Mansfield seeming to get into the game after conceding two early scores. Penalties were traded back and forth and play was mostly taking place between the two 10 metre lines. Mansfield’s pack disrupted well, with youngster Toby Lieber winning a scrum for the home team after a Paviors penalty saw them opt to kick for touch.

A Paviors breakout came to a shuddering halt with some superb defensive tackling by Ollie Stanford at Full Back, who was industrious all game, allowing Mansfield to win the penalty and clear their lines.

Mansfield worked their way up the park, winning a penalty that John Ross Ward, this week at number 10, duly slotted through the posts. It was now 10-3 as the first quarter came to a close. 

Paviors scrum was dominant driving Mansfield back and allowing a good attacking platform. However, dogged defence from the back row of Joe Symcox, Captain Phil Donaldson and Greene King Man of the Match Josh Hall saw that the visitors weren’t allowed to capitalise as much as their backs, who were in superb form all afternoon, would have liked.

Mansfield’s pack were able to win another turnover in Paviors’ 22, which lead to scrum half Alan Symcox, looking more comfortable at scrum half every week, to embark on a trademark run, that we’ve seen so many times from centre and number 8, beating a number of defenders before dotting down to register the blue-and-white’s first try. The kick was missed, but Mansfield were back in the game at 10-8.

Another succession of penalties saw Paviors lose a player to the sin bin. Mansfield opted for the scrum but, in a demonstration of power, were driven back by a solid 7-man opposing pack.

Mansfield retained the ball but a knock on bought momentum to a halt. They soon regained the ball and were awarded a penalty for a deliberate knock on, Ward duly slotting it between the posts to send Mansfield in to the lead for the first time.

However, that lead wasn’t to last long, Paviors collecting a wayward defensive kick to scarper through some weak tackling and dot down under the posts. The conversion was successful and the whistle blew for half time. Paviors lead 17-11.

Straight from the restart some good interlinking between Jonathan Colley and Joe Symcox saw Scott Bailey unleashed down the wing, rounding the Paviors defence to bring the home side to within one point, the resulting conversion having been missed.

Next it was the turn of the home side to lose a player to the sin bin, Andy Simms being sent for a 10 minute break for a tip tackle that initially looked like one of the best tackles of the game. However, new laws state that as soon as a tackled player goes beyond horizontal, no matter how slight, it’s a penalty and, more often than not, a yellow card. This led to much debate after the game but, to the letter of the law, the referee was right.

Not that being reduced to 14 men seemed to affect Mansfield, Josh Hall receiving a deft pass from Liam Grant to race away and put Mansfield back into the lead. The conversion was a success allowing Mansfield to nudge in front, 23-17. However they knew this was not going to be enough to see of a strong Paviors team.

A Mansfield penalty lead to another kick at goal. The kick missed but the resulting 22m restart landed in the arms of Colley just outside his own 22. Instrumental in a try in the first half, he decided to see how far he would get on his own. He broke through to race under the posts, securing the 4th try bonus point. A successful Ward conversion took Mansfield to 30-17.

However, Paviors were not done, coming back with a well taken their own try and conversion to bring them within 6 points at 30-24 with ten minutes to play. 

The final few minutes saw a yellow card for Mansfield, a try disallowed for a double movement and a powerful scrum push Paviors off the ball, a sight not seen in the previous 75 minutes. Finally a knock on bought the game to an end and saw Mansfield victorious 30-24.

A visibly happy Neil Stent, head coach, said “I’m proud of the way the boys bounced back after last week. It could have been easy for them to roll over, but they didn’t, they stuck at it and picked up the maximum points.”

Manager Richard Walters was also happy: “We played a power game, it’s difficult to keep that up for 80 minutes but the boys did well and deserve the victory.

This weekend Mansfield travel to Spalding. Kick-off is at 3pm and you can follow the action on Twitter @MansfieldRugby

Photo: Man of Match Josh Hall receiving award from Joe Parks of Greene King.

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