Mansfield seal double after thriller

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Games between these Leighton Buzzard and Mansfield are usually high-scoring affairs, with an average of 40-plus points - and this was no exception, with the lead changing hands six times, with Mansfield eventually winning 31-21.

The result and Mansfield’s five tries saw a maximum points haul and the completion of the double over the Bedfordshire side this season.

There were concerns that the recent rain would render the pitch a bog, but the howling gale which blew up the famous slope worked to give a surface that allowed running rugby, and Mansfield relished the opportunity to run.

Facing the gale but with the slope Mansfield conceded an early penalty and line out, but had ball stolen by Symcox.

Despite a set scrum success, Mansfield’s attempt to run from their own 22 only resulted in another penalty slotted over for the opening score.

Despite the Shaw’s adventure from deep and Pritchard and Simmons proving willing runners a drive resulted in lost ball. Buzzard countered and with a try wide on the right had an 8-0 lead with just seven minutes gone.

Mansfield needed a quick response and after Coleman recovered the restart they developed a series of line outs and scrums.

Despite the wind, which was affecting so much, Pogmore’s throwing in was unerring, and that proved to be a vital difference.

Three scrums were reset as Mansfield’s power buckled the home pack but finally they pushed over with Calladine securing the touchdown.

From the restart Holmes caught and unleashed Stokes on a mazy 50 metre run before Pritchard took play on.

Another break from Stokes with Storey was attempted but a penalty was conceded and the home lead was back to six points.

Once more the Blue and Whites set off down the slope through Holmes before Wills went on an arcing run to open up room for Storey.

A chip had play firmly on the home 5m area and once more a series of scrums saw Mansfield turning the screw.

When they decided it was time to become expansive the ball was moved quickly and a move took Lee Shaw in position to release Stokes who beat three men for the try.

Vitally Lee Shaw drilled the ball between the wildly swaying uprights and the first quarter ended 12-11, Mansfield in the lead for the first time.

That slender advantage lasted until the 36th minute. However, breaks by Wills, Hough and Storey should have resulted in an increased lead but final passes went awry and overlaps were not exploited.

However, there was time for Mansfield to camp out on the home line one more time.

The ball went loose before hacks saw it rebounding like a pin table ball. Sharpest to see the opportunity Wills claimed possession and darted over. Half-time, fourth change of the lead and it was 17-16 to Mansfield

Symcox gave way to an energetic Philip Donaldson at the interval and he was soon in action in support of Holmes and Calladine.

The next wave of Mansfield attacks saw Adam Shaw break with Calladine, and a powerful run from Simmons, but McGregor damaged an ankle in the move.

Enjoying territory Buzzards found an opportunity to develop a back row move on 66 minutes to again move four points in front.

Before they could enjoy it Mansfield were in front again. Knocking on the restart they again faced a rock solid scrum and quick ball saw Wills opening up the opposition, drawing the last man and sending Storey across the line.

Once more the steadiness of Lee Shaw’s boot beat the wind and Mansfield 24 -17 up.

With Stokes struggling Mansfield made it two pairs of brothers on the field with a debut for Richard Donaldson whose father missed the trip and so was not there to see both his boys in first team action together.

If he had he would also have seen Pogmore forcing errors, big tackles from Simmons, Holmes and Gripton quickly turning to prevent a charge down develop into a run to the line.

Buzzards strove but on 75 minute they were hit by the best move of the day and a classic try. From a scrum, ball went quickly to Wills with Storey in support.

His run took play to the 22 where Holmes continued the move, found Lee Shaw, who split the defence before slipping the ball to Simmons, masquerading as a winger. He had too much pace for the defence. Once more on a day where kicking was difficult Lee Shaw converted and Mansfield had a 10-point cushion to see them home.

With the opportunity of bonus points for a fourth try and trimming the margin of defeat below eight points Buzzards laid siege to the Mansfield line. Their performance may have warranted two points but Mansfield’s defence was totally committed.

“This was a good response after last week and this is always a tricky away trip,” mused coach Steve Shaw. “Our options were not always the right ones but conditions came into play. ”

l This Saturday Mansfield travel across Kelham Bridge to face Newark knowing that as well as local pride and bragging rights being at stake, vital league points and continued participation in the NLD Senior Cup hinge on this game.

As always it will be an affair of passion and winner takes all, kick-off 2.15pm.

l Ollerton won 12-10 in a friendly at Gainsborough, Scott Gretton with both tries, Tom Miller adding a conversion.

l Ashfield U11s came from behind to beat Rotherham Titans 7-5 with a Cellan Shacklock try and Calum Close conversion.