Mansfield hold heads high as Lions continue to roar

Mansfield RUFC v  Peterborough.
Mansfield RUFC v Peterborough.

MANSFIELD were unable to put a dent in Peterborough Lions’ perfect start to the season - but the visitors will no doubt remember their first visit to Eakring Road.

The Cambridgeshire side were in a justifiably confident mood having won all 12 of their previous games and accruing maximum bonus points ahead of their trip north.

Mansfield RUFC v  Peterborough.

Mansfield RUFC v Peterborough.

However, in Mansfield they found tough, uncompromising opponents that refused to take a backward step and who led until the final minutes of the first half.

It was only in the latter stages that Peterborough were able to get on top, but by then Mansfield had earned widespread respect in a thrilling encounter.

The blue and whites came into the game having lost six players to injury inside 48 hours and it was credit to each incoming player that they stepped up manfully to the challenge.

The early exchanges were fiercely contested by both sides and the official needed to have his wits about him as each forward pack tested the each other to the limit.

As the first quarter drew to a close it was still stalemate on the scoreboard, but Mansfield had certainly edged the contest in terms of territory.

Early forays by John Ross Ward, attacking from full-back, kept the Peterborough defence honest, while Rob Broadhurst, pressed into action on the wing and later finishing the game in the second row, enjoyed an excellent afternoon.

However, it was pressure exerted by the home pack that took its toll, allowing Jonathan Williams to put them into the lead with a well-struck penalty after 23 minutes.

With the deadlock broken, Mansfield kept up the pressure and were rewarded with a further penalty just two minutes later as Williams extended the advantage to 6-0.

As the game approached the half hour mark, Adam Shaw was at his brilliant best, sniping and attacking at every opportunity, and man of the match Joe Symcox proved to be a thorn in the side of Peterborough.

Josh Hall and Danny Ellis, together with Alan Symcox and Ian Coleman, were also excelling, but the Lions are a side not used to losing and to their credit they held everything together.

Their talented fly-half exposed the soft underbelly of Mansfield’s defence in the final minutes of the half to ghost through unopposed and put his side in front at 7-6.

Just five minutes into the second period, the visiting fly-half again showed his class with a deft chip ahead for his midfield runners to pounce on and move to the score on to 12-6.

After the opposition touch judge was sent from the field for an altercation with number eight Alan Symcox, the Lions pack had a series of scrums close to the Mansfield line and made each count as they drove the home side backwards before crashing over to make it 19-6.

Despite this, the blue and whites pressed on with energy sapping carries from Alan Symcox, ably assisted by Liam Grant, Chester Scott and Skipper Phil Donaldson.

In the face of this, the Peterborough defence held out quite superbly and Mansfield, try as they may, just couldn’t get across the line.

Then, at the other end, the Lions recycled the ball quickly and went over for their bonus point try in the corner.

Youngster Scott Bailey came on as replacement and ended a potential visiting breakout with a superb cover tackle before Joe Symcox’s buccaneering run went unrewarded as the hosts’ final pass went astray.

Mansfield are at home again this weekend as they face Matlock. Kick-off is 2.15pm and you can follow the action on Twitter by going to @MansfieldRugby.