Mansfield seal thriller with last kick of match
Not until the very last kick of the game could Mansfield RUFC seal a dramatic victory after a tense and exciting contest at home to Buxton.
The pendulum swing this way and that during the afternoon as the lead changed hands many times between the two National League, Midlands 3 East (North) division mid-tablers.
But as a firecracker of a match approached the final whistle, Mansfield hung on to the spoils 28-26. A dropped ball by Buxton was hacked through by an energised counter-attack from the blue-and-whites, who won a penalty. And a deft kick into touch was all that was needed to close out the action.
The result delighted head coach Wayne Robinson, who was also named joint man-of-the-match, alongside Gareth Gripton. Robinson praised the resilience his side showed in the final period and added: “In the past, we’ve lost this type of encounter, so I’m proud of the way the boys fronted up and took the chances that were on offer.”
Neither team was willing to give an inch, but it was Mansfield who drew first blood when well-worked possession led to Sam Holmes going over the try-line. Buxton were in no mood to let that ruffle their feathers, and they re-gathered to score 12 points of their own thanks to two tries, one of which was converted. But by half-time, the Eakring Road outfit had cut the deficit to just one thanks to two penalties from Steve Mower.
The second half started with an immediate advantage to Mansfield when a visiting player was sent to the sin bin for ten minutes for foul play. They duly cashed in, keeping hold of the ball and setting up a driving maul that led to scrum-half Mower scoring a try that he himself converted to create a lead of 18-12.
Fired up, Buxton came back again to edge ahead 19-18. But Mansfield responded once more to lead 23-19 as Robinson floated a mesmeric, perfectly-timed pass into the welcoming arms of Ollie Stanford, who sprinted to the line.
Amazingly, the visitors rallied to regain the advantage as a pick and go from the base of the scrum saw them run 40 metres, untouched, to score directly under the posts. But 26-23 down and staring defeat in the face, Mansfield produced one last winning try as Robinson grabbed the ball from the base of a maul to dive over the line.
Mansfield’s next league game is at Chesterfield on Saturday, February 11.