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Second Half Fight Back Not Enough

Kettering 32 Mansfield 20

Last Updated: Dec 3, 2013 03:50pm
Oak Tree, Mansfield
By Andy Foster
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Mansfield travelled to Kettering one place above the Northamptonshire side in the league rankings and after producing a mercurial performance, departed having switched positions as they were left rueing a first half showing, which for large parts, was well below recent form.

The home side pressured from the start and forced an early penalty giving them a three point lead after just two minutes. The blue & whites struck back immediately with a Jonathan Williams penalty of their own to level the scores at 3-3.

With fourteen minutes played the home Scrum Half broke from the base of a ruck as Mansfield’s defensive pattern uncharacteristically broke down and spotting the gap he darted through to race unopposed 40 metres to the posts. The conversion brought the score to 10-3.

As we entered the second quarter a wayward pass in midfield was intercepted by Ash Wills and he outpaced the cover defence to score in the corner for Mansfield’s first try. An outstanding touchline conversion by Jonathan Williams levelled the scores at 10 points each.

However, the final fifteen minutes of the half belonged to Kettering as they appeared more eager to get to the try line as Mansfield were guilty of missing important first-up tackles. Confusion in midfield led to the home Centre bursting through for another try and conversion and a penalty added right on the 40 minutes mark meant that Kettering led 20-10 as the break beckoned.

Whether the visitors thought the end of the half had arrived and so relaxed accordingly, who knows, but it did not take away the excellence in execution of the home side’s next try which was a length of the field affair involving the ball passing through several pairs of hands much to the delight of the home crowd as the Winger crossed the whitewash at the other end. The conversion increased the score to 27 points to 10 and Mansfield were facing a long road back.

Kettering started the second half as they did the first with a penalty in the first two minutes extending their lead to 30 points to 10. With seemingly nothing to lose, this seemed to galvanise Mansfield into action and finally they came to life. With five minutes played Skipper Phil Donaldson presented the lineout ball crisply off the top from which Alan Symcox broke through and fed his brother Joe who crashed over the line just wide of the posts. Jonathan Williams converted and at 30-17 the visitors appeared to have a spring in their step for the first time.

For the next ten minutes it was all Mansfield as they pressed hard to try and fight their way back into the game. The pressure exerted forced a penalty kick for Jonathan Williams bringing the score to 30-20 and the home crowd appeared a little nervous as Mansfield pressed again.

After fifteen minutes of defending the home side held out well and repelled the visitors time and again. Although Mansfield looked far more like the side we had seen in recent weeks during this period they were unable to score again. The final blow was dealt as confusion appeared again the midfield and the home Centre burst through to signal the end of any comeback. The conversion brought the score to 37-20 and the Northamptonshire outfit had secured their well earned win. 

The final minutes saw Joe Symcox dismissed to the sin bin and although Mansfield did have the final say with a valiant break out from their own try line to make it past half way, they were unable to make it the whole way.

Mansfield host league leaders Peterborough Lions RFC this weekend in their first ever visit to Eakring Road. Kick-off is 2:15pm and you can follow the action on Twitter, just go to @MansfieldRugby.

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