Mansfield Woes Continue

Mansfield 15 - 28 Ashbourne

Last Updated: Oct 28, 2015 05:45pm
Oak Tree, Mansfield
By Phil Foster
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According to a certain Irish songsmith, ‘life is a rollercoaster’. Well, this season has certainly been a rollercoaster for Mansfield Rugby Club. Saturday saw them play Ashbourne in the league, a team against whom they had amassed 50 points at the start of the season. 


However, Ashbourne thoroughly banished that dark day from their memories with a dogged and determined performance that saw them reduced to 11 men at one stage after an unprecedented flurry of yellow cards that left spectators gobsmacked.


Head Coach Wayne Robinson said, “There are so many things we did half well and we have much to work on”.


Unfortunately, Mansfield’s inability to truly capitalise on a 4 man advantage, however brief it was, was ultimately their undoing. Once returned to full strength, Ashbourne once again took the game by the scruff of the neck and dug down to record a victory. Agonisingly for the home side, the final score of the game saw Mansfield miss out on a losing bonus point.


A downpour shortly before kick-off meant the conditions were greasy and this was evident from the start as play took place mostly in the middle of the park. A defending scrum for Ashbourne was lost as Mansfield’s dominant forward pack turned them over. Mansfield were able to use the resulting possession and territory to good use, some soft handling putting Lee Shaw in the corner to start Mansfield off in the perfect way. The conversion was missed but the blue-and-whites had started positively and lead 5-0.


This positive start was the springboard Mansfield needed, good play by The Mansfield Ladies Man of the Match Pete Alldread, some fierce runs by Gareth Gripton and Liam Annabelle, excellent breakdown thievery by Jimmy Bennet and a dominant scrum, led by captain Liam Grant, should have seen Mansfield capitalise and build further opportunity.


However, that would be the final home score of the half as Ashbourne recorded two tries of their own, converting both. The second, a penalty try, saw wing Emmanuel Ogonude sent to the sin bin for foul play. 


Ashbourne seemed to be handling the greasy conditions better, much of Mansfield’s promising phase play disrupted by dropped balls. The scrum remained dominant for the blue-and-whites but, it seemed, that was the only thing that was working well. To their credit, Ashbourne recycled well and were able to take advantage of space where it was available. 


That said, Ashbourne ended the half with two players being sent to the bin for a ten minute rest. With the half time whistle, the score read 14-5 to the visitors. 

The second half played out much like the first – the conditions getting the better of both teams. Any territory gained was often lost, both teams desperate to keep hold of the ball as if it were the bar of soap in a prison shower.


Ashbourne’s discipline cost them as they lost another player to the sin bin early in the second half, reducing them to 12. Ogunode made up for his earlier indiscretion and  took advantage of the deficit with a try in the corner, however a second missed conversion, difficult from the touchline, meant Ashbourne still kept their lead, 14-10 to the visitors.


That pattern would repeat itself shortly after, Ashbourne losing yet another player to the sin bin, reducing their number to effectively a football team. Mansfield again took advantage with another score out wide. A third touchline conversion was missed but, at 15-14, Mansfield were in the lead and still had a numerical advantage,


That advantage would not be exploited further, 15 remaining the number of points Mansfield were to register. Whether it be a lack of consistency or simply a lack of game time, the blue-and-whites were simply unable to put together enough phases to really trouble a dogged and determined Ashbourne side. 


Spectators were left wondering why the home time were unable to exploit the numerous overlaps that were created with such a significant numerical advantage. Playing simple rugby would have allowed further scores to be easily created, simple running lines would have stretched a tired and overworked defence and opened up space for attackers to exploit.


As it was, Mansfield lost two of their own to the sin bin; Andy Simms for a tackle in the air and Josh Hall for offside, Ashbourne were restored to a full complement, kicked 3 penalties and a third try to bring the final score to 28-15 to the away side.


The homes side missed out on the bonus point and Ashbourne demons were thoroughly blown away; the home team have a lot to think about over the next two weeks. While domestic league rugby takes a break next week for the World Cup final, the blue-and-whites will be left rueing another missed opportunity to a team they know they could have beaten. 


In two weeks, Mansfield play Bakewell away. You can follow the action on Twitter @MansfieldRugby.








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