Head coach Wayne Robinson praised Mansfield 1sts after a 23-12 win over Ashby in a sometimes tempestuous match.
Robinson, who was pleased with the victory and the pace of the game, said: “That was tough. Credit to the boys for sticking together and grinding out a win.”
Much of the first half belonged to the visitors as a succession of penalties allowed them to build a solid base of territory and possession.
The blue-and-whites didn’t help their own cause at times, back-chatting the referee to cost them valuable field position.
Ashby’s intentions to challenge the home possession were made clear when, attempting to clear the lines at a defensive scrum, a charge down saw the visitors pick up the loose ball and go over the line to lead 5-0.
Another mistake by the home team saw Ashby’s counter-attack scoop up the ball to add a converted try.
Finally holding on to possession and securing territory, the blue-and-whites managed to force the visitors into conceding penalties of their own. John Ross Ward kicked two of the penalties to halve the deficit.
Winger Joe Ducker, centre Andreas Zacharia and match-day sponsor Mayo Engineering’s man-of-the-match, Emmanuel Ogunode, each made breaks and half-breaks through the visitors’ defence as Mansfield continued to fight back.
Olly Stanford was the beneficiary of much-improved cohesion, scoring the home side’s first try to leave them one point behind.
In the second half, Mansfield’s resurgence continued as Ashby conceded many penalties and had a player sin-binned.
The home team took advantage of the penalties, setting up driving mauls, including one that progressed 20 metres.
When it broke down, a perhaps speculative kick was sent into the far corner, bouncing around before being swooped upon by Joe Ducker to score in the corner.
That gave Mansfield an 18-12 lead.
Ducker and Ogunode saw more of the ball in the second period, with Ryan Haywood solid in defence at fly half — a valiant effort by the youngster as he was tested on numerous occasions by his larger counterpart.
Mansfield’s pack had gained some dominance, highlighted by the disruption of a visitors’ defensive scrum.
The ball was cleared to Stanford, who weaved through a couple of challenges before off-loading the ball to Zacharia.
Zacharia then went over to score and secure the home team’s fifth league win of the season.
It left Mansfield mid-table in Midlands 3 East (North), where they sit seventh with 21 points. Ashby are five points behind Mansfield.
The division leaders are Lincoln on 48 points, 15 clear of Buxton.
On Saturday, Mansfield travel to bottom-of-the-table Ashfield. Kick-off is at 2.15pm.