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Northampton Side Avenge October Defeat

Bugbrooke 31 Mansfield 20

Last Updated: Mar 18, 2014 12:15pm
Oak Tree, Mansfield
By Andy Foster
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Separated by two league places and coming off the back of a narrow victory at home for Mansfield last October, both teams took to the field of play with every reason to think they could win this game.

However, as Caesar was warned by the Soothsayer ‘beware the ides of March’ and so it was that the blue & whites fell foul of the 15th and the home side emerged victorious.

Despite a lively start for the visitors where they had the ball almost entirely from the kick off, they coughed up possession and conceded a well taken try as the home Flanker broke through to give his side a 7 point lead after 4 minutes. Just three minutes later Mansfield struck back as Rich Donaldson appeared to have scored but was denied as the official adjudged the ball to have been knocked on.

Taking matters into his own hands from the scrum Jonathan Williams scythed through the middle untouched and with one man to beat fed Ash Wills to score under the posts. Williams converted and the score was level at 7 all.

For large parts of the game each side had periods of domination and also their fair share of contributing to the error count. That said, when they got it right both teams impressed with precision in attack and robustness in defence. As the first quarter drew to a close the home side extended their lead with a score in the corner after keeping quick ball alive for several phases to bring the score to 12-7.

One such erroneous moment from Mansfield followed from the kick off which gifted the ball to Bugbrooke, who then ended a sweeping move covering three quarters of the pitch to score again in the corner and the scoreboard read 17-7.

With 24 minutes played Jonathan Williams was presented with an opportunity for a shot at goal from the half way line. Although a tail wind assisted it spliced the uprights with plenty to spare and gave his team a much needed three points. With the score at 17-10 Mansfield began to shade the breakdown and steal odd lineout ball but general play was still stalemate. Right on the stroke of half time the visitors broke through and were denied a second try where this time the pass was adjudged to have been forward. However, just two minutes later the ball was turned over and Alan Symcox burst through under the posts. With the extras from Jonathan Williams the half ended 17 all.

Within a minute of the second half starting Jonathan Williams added to his tally with a penalty following a deliberate knock on and Mansfield had taken the lead for the first time in the game at 17-20. Bugbrooke battled back and were dominating at the scrum sufficiently to deny the visitors any real clean ball from the base. After one such scrum reversal with twelve minutes played, the home side Scrum Half broke through and fed his Flanker to take the lead back 22-20.

As we approached the final quarter of the game Mansfield transgressed repeatedly and incurred the wrath of the official with alarming regularity. The result saw Jonathan Colley sent to the sin bin but the penalties kept coming. The contest was tough enough with fifteen men on the park and the job just got harder.

Mansfield’s backs were denied yet another try to a forward pass during this period. Although the home side were unable to extend their lead during the period of banishment the damage they inflicted in terms of pressure, territory and possession took its toll. After 35 minutes, a poor kick out of defence gave the Bugbrooke the opportunity to run the ball back and cross the line for the final score of the game.

With the score at 29-20 Mansfield and five minutes of normal time to go Mansfield gave a valiant attempt to rescue a losing bonus point and although they crossed the line again, frustratingly, the Referee adjudged the ball to have been held up.

A further five minutes of injury time allowed Mansfield to continue their assault on the Bugbrooke line but couldn’t breach the defence. In almost the final play Adam Shaw was sin binned for a high tackle and a few seconds later the next breakdown signalled the end of the game.

Mansfield visit Ilkeston this weekend in the league but as they are also the blue & whites next opponents in the Semi-Final of the NLD Cup draw, the game will be played as a ‘double header’ and the winner takes all. Kick-off is 2:15pm and you can follow the action on Twitter, just go to @MansfieldRugby.

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