Two Bonus Points for Mansfield

Mansfield 27 - 31 West Bridgford

Last Updated: Dec 7, 2015 06:54pm
Oak Tree, Mansfield
By Phil Foster
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A crisp and unpredictable winter wind couldn’t stop Mansfield picking up 2 bonus points in a match ruled by the conditions. The blue-and-whites have developed some real cohesion in the last few games in contrast to some fitful performances at the beginning of September.

Head Coach Wayne Robinson said, “I’m happy with the performance, we spent most of the second half defending so to come away with a bonus point is very positive. The amount of penalties we conceded was worrying and essentially cost us the game”.

The day largely belonged to the weather. Although not cold, the blustery wind meant that kicking the ball was never going to be the chosen tactic, for one half of the game at least. This was evident by the amount of times the visiting team decided to tap and go, rather than risk the ball not making it into touch. That particular tactic was used a lot as Mansfield conceded penalty after penalty resulting in a count that went well into double figures.

The game started in positive fashion, both teams doing their best to play some attacking rugby despite the weather doing its best to ruin things. However, the first exchanges were characterised by fumbles and mistakes, both teams trying to get a feel of what would and wouldn’t work. A turnover by the blue-and-whites saw them getting first blood, a try by Ash Stirland putting them 5-0 in front.

The wind, not to be outdone, started having some fun of its own, ensuring the ball didn’t stray too far beyond the ruck. Both packs were competing well in rucks and mauls, the visitors gaining an edge in the scrum early on.

A penalty for Mansfield saw them increase their lead to 8-0 and seemingly developing some momentum that they could build on.

Bridgford were not to be outdone and, to their credit, their phase play was impressive all game. A tap and go from a penalty saw them put their first points on the board. The conversion was missed by they were in the game, trailing 8-5.

Mansfield’s endeavour was not to be undone, Josh Hall, Olly Stamford, Rob Storey and matchday sponsor Mayo Engineering’s Man of the Match Joe Ducker all making headway against a very tight Bridgford defence. Ultimately, it was Stamford breaking through the middle, leaving numerous players in his wake that allowed John Kingswood to latch onto a crisp pass and score Mansfield’s second try. Another tricky conversion was missed, but Mansfield were in front 13-5.

Unfortunately, a succession of penalties by the home team allowed Bridgford to build momentum and build a platform with which to launch wave after wave of attack on Mansfield’s line. A fourth consecutive penalty on the stroke of half time, followed by a quick tap and go, saw Bridgford go into the break just one point behind, a converted try the result of their endeavour.

Much of the second half belonged to Bridgford. However, the first 10 minutes saw Mansfield start in bright fashion. Ducker pounced on a loose ball before eventually getting it to Stamford who broke through the middle of the park and sprinted 60 metres to increase Mansfield’s lead. A successful conversion saw them 20-12 in front, crucially denying a losing bonus point to the visitors at this stage.

Unfortunately, Mansfield then spent much of the half defending their line. Conceding an inordinate amount of penalties and losing skipper Liam Grant to the sinbin for 10 minutes saw the game slip just beyond reach. Three Bridgford scores saw them catch up with, and then overtake, the blue-and-whites, the score reading 31-20 to the visitors with 5 minutes remaining.

One final flourish from the blue-and-whites saw them regain possession and finally put some phases of their own together, fly half John-Ross Ward flying 40 metres upfield to set up prime position for Mansfield to secure two bonus points, one for scoring four tries and one for being within 7 points. Replacement Hamza Cherkaoui took advantage of some good phases by the pack and a series of quick hands in the backs to score just outside the posts. The resulting conversion was successful, bring the final tally to 27 points. 

The full time score remained 31-27 to the visitors, Mansfield leaving it just too late to build a platform for a winning try. Ultimately, in defeat this was a much spirited and defensively solid performance.

Next week, Mansfield play host to Market Bosworth at Eakring Road. Kick-off is at 2:15 and you can follow the action on Twitter @MansfieldRugby




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