Mansfield held in dramatic draw at Peterborough

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Two sides in desperate need of league points walked away with three apiece as Peterborough and Mansfield fought out a dramatic 32-32 draw on Saturday.

The spoils were shared in a game in which both teams demonstrated outstanding excellent attacking flair, together with lamentable defensive profligacy in equal measure.

The home side had the better start as Mansfield transgressed several times in the early exchanges, incurring the displeasure of the official.

A number of penalties were awarded which ultimately led to a well-taken Peterborough try from a catch and drive after just five minutes.

The game progressed with the Mansfield forwards trying to assert their authority and the home side not really capitalising on the amount of territory and possession they had.

As the first quarter drew to a close, which saw Jonathan Colley enjoy his first senior outing in a Mansfield shirt for six years, Jonathan Williams slotted a penalty after Adam Shaw had been tripped and the home lock despatched to the bin as a result.

With the score at 5-3 and 25 minutes played, the Blue & Whites produced an outstanding score, going the length of the field and moving the ball through several pairs of hands before Ash Wills finished it off in the corner.

Shortly afterwards a Mansfield forward drive ended over the line, but a try was denied by the referee.

However, despite that, the score was extended to 15-5 as the home scrum half fly-hacked the ball five metres straight to Adam Shaw.

He slipped the ball to Jonathan Williams, who broke three tackles to score under the posts and convert his own try with just over half an hour played.

Peterborough then showed great determination as they searched for their first league win and threw everything at the visitors for the last 10 minutes of the half.

The two final plays of the half belonged to them as a penalty on 39 minutes and a try on 41 minutes closed the gap to 15-13, setting the scene for a tense second half.

Both sides appeared tentative as they searched for the extra score that would put daylight between them.

For their part, Mansfield committed a number of basic handling errors and Peterborough struggled to get continuity of possession.

Mansfield did cross the line again after nine minutes but were again denied by the official.

However, shortly afterwards, Joe Symcox broke from a scrum 40 metres out and fed Adam Shaw who outstripped the defence to score in the corner. A superb touchline conversion from Jonathan Williams made it 22-13.

As the game entered the final quarter, the home side struck again and crossed for a well-taken score after recycling the ball several times.

The score was now 22-20 with everything to play for.

With 24 minutes played the Symcox/Shaw axis set up Jonathan Williams to release Chester Scott, who crashed over in the corner for Mansfield to extend their lead yet again to 27-20 and a four try bonus point.

However, this lead was squandered just after half an hour when a lapse in defence allowed the home team to level the score at 27-27 with a try of their own under the posts.

With 36 minutes of the second half played the home fly half was sin-binned for a late tackle on his opposite number and the pendulum had swung in Mansfield’s favour.

Just one minute later, and with a man short in defence, the home side couldn’t prevent Ash Wills from outpacing the cover defence to cross the line just wide of the posts for his brace and it looked like the Blue & Whites had sealed the game.

However, Mansfield were prevented from taking the conversion as the official decided to apply the letter of the law to the final second and deemed the time allowed in which to take the conversion had actually ‘timed out’.

No one from either side could lay claim to ever having seen that done before.

The result was the Jonathan Williams was halted in his approach to the ball and the visitors were denied the extra points.

This did prove costly for the Blue & Whites and could have been a lot worse as the home side enjoyed an uninterrupted flow of possession for the next 10 minutes, ending in a further try of their own just wide of the posts after 46 minutes of play bringing the score to 32-32 and a likely conversion seemed a certainty.

The final drama occurred as the home fly half, who had been binned at 36 minutes, had now returned to the field of play to perform the final act of taking the conversion.

In a dramatic twist, perhaps the ‘Gods of rugby’ decided a draw was the fairest result as the ball sailed wide and the game ended with the score tied.

Mansfield host Northamptonshire side Bugbrooke RFC this weekend in their first ever visit to Eakring Road.

Kick-off is 3pm and you can follow the action on Twitter, just go to @MansfieldRugby.