Old Northamptonians 32 Mansfield 19

Mansfield Show Much Improved Performance

Last Updated: Sep 30, 2013 09:21pm
Oak Tree, Mansfield
By Andy Foster
Share |

The Mansfield Coaching team were greatly encouraged by a much improved performance from a side that included three Colts boasting a grand total of one First XV outing between them.

With a strong wind blowing across the pitch both sides failed with a penalty attempt in the first couple of minutes. Then with just 3 minutes on the clock Old Northamptonians (ONs) signalled their intent as they broke out for an early score out wide.

Probably somewhat annoyed at this early profligacy the visitors immediately pressed back at the home side. A typical snipe and chip through from Adam Shaw just bounced an inch too low as Rich Donaldson was unable to gather for what looked a certain scoring opportunity in the corner.

Some rumbustious work from Andy Simms and Gareth Gripton provided a steady platform up front and Chris Hawkins, who was superb all afternoon and voted Man of the Match, with his front row partner, evergreen Ian Coleman, brought a much needed stability to the set piece.

As a Jonathan Williams penalty attempt bounced agonisingly off the posts on the 9 minute mark, Mansfield continued to pressure a home side that showed great invention every time they had the ball. They are an impressive unit with a forward pack that is abrasive and strong which puts the final result into some perspective. Not many sides will go to ONs and still lose after amassing 19 points and scoring three tries.

As the first quarter drew to a close, the blue & whites still had all the ball but just couldn’t break down the dogged home defence. More good work from Hawkins ably assisted by youngster Chester Scott and Skipper Phil Donaldson put the visitors into great field position. However, a couple of questionable passes deemed to be forward by the visiting hordes together with a couple of poor kicks out of defence contrived to put the visitors under pressure. On the half hour mark ONs struck again with a well taken try to make the score 12-0.

As the half closed Alan Symcox was starting to make inroads from Number 8 and with some great defence by youngster Ollie stokes and Winger Jordan Cleaver playing in the centre Mansfield maintained that scoreline to the break.

Unfortunately for the Blue & Whites the malady of conceding an early score continued and with just two minutes on the clock ONs extended their lead to 17 nil. Spurred on by this they continued to show their class and for long periods dominated territory and possession. A further try was awarded after many felt the ball was dropped over the line but the constant pressure eventually told and with three quarters of the game gone the home side added a further try to bring the score to 27 nil.

All credit to the visitors as they began to bite back which made for an interesting last twenty minutes. Aided by a yellow card for the home side Mansfield had a scrum on the 5 metre mark and pushed the home side back over their line. Just as Alan Symcox touched down the official awarded a penalty try bringing the score to 27-7 after Jonathan Williams added the extras.

This was to be ONs fourth win from four games and it was easy to see why as they rallied again with some impressive and swift recycling to post their final score bringing the tally to 32-7.

Determined to cap a fine afternoon Alan Symcox crossed in typical bullocking fashion after a superb diagonal kick from Williams set up great field position. Josh Hall received a yellow card for Mansfield from the restart and was joined almost immediately by another transgressor from ONs as both teams finished with 14 men. Two Colts and league debutants entered the fray for Mansfield in the shape of Scott Bailey and Richard Cawkill together with Michael Wallace in only his second league outing. All impressed in the short time they were on the field.

With the game all but over Jonathan Williams rounded of an excellent afternoon with a coruscating break out from his own 22 which involved two dummies that were both outrageous and impressive in equal measure. Three passes later the ball ended up in the hands of youngster Scott Bailey who had tracked for 60 metres to record his first senior try under the posts. Williams converted to bring the final score to 32-19.

There is no doubt that after a difficult season in national three last year and an injury ridden September, this side is starting to show some self belief to go with the undoubted talent on show. The tide is turning.       

Mansfield host Paviors at home this weekend, which will also see Byron Edwards inaugurated as the new President of Mansfield Rugby Club. Kick-off is at 3pm and you can follow the action on Twitter @MansfieldRugby.  


blog comments powered by Disqus