Against the most stunning Derbyshire backdrop Mansfield RUFC fought a hard and determined campaign to come away with much needed league points, eventually overcoming a very determined Bakewell outfit 16-10 on Saturday.
Senior coach Wayne Robinson said: “We are very happy with the win and pleased with the way the lads stuck at it.
“We showed signs of continuity in terrible conditions which is encouraging, but we still have a lot more to do.”
Sticking at it was more appropriate than normal as the wet and sticky conditions hampered progress for both teams.
Torrential rain right at the kick-off put paid to any real adventure as the ball became soap-like and under-foot it was treacherous with players losing their footing regularly.
However, it is worthy of note that despite this, both sides did in fact try to spread the ball wide at every opportunity, unfortunately not always with the desired outcome.
Following a minute’s silence, not only for Remembrance Sunday, but also, the passing away of a long time Bakewell club member during the week, it was the home side who got off to the better start.
After just 10 minutes the ball did eventually find its way down the line for the home winger to slide over in the corner. A superb touchline conversion meant the visitors had some work to do at 7-0 down.
To their credit, this they did, coming back and building enough pressure for Bakewell to concede a penalty as the first quarter drew to a close. John Ross Ward stepped up to convert the three points and at 7-3 the Blue and Whites knew they had to make this pressure tell even more.
With Josh Hall more often than not leading the charge the forward the visitors started to make inroads in to the home defence.
A second and more ambitious penalty attempt from Ward just sailed wide but Mansfield were starting slowly to gain the upper hand.
It has to be said that both sides defended with much passion and heart especially in such awful conditions.
As Bakewell had the wind at their backs in the first half they were obviously going to take advantage of this and pepper the visiting last line of defence with high kicks.
Mansfield full-back Pete Alldread fielded every ball put into the damp sky faultlessly, giving his team great confidence.
It is also worth noting that Mansfield did exactly the same in the second half and the home full-back dealt with the high balls with equal aplomb.
Just three minutes into the second half John Ross Ward converted a penalty to make the score 7-6.
With 10 minutes gone Tom Key continued his relentless drives from rolling mauls to finally battle his way over for his first senior try, bringing the score to 11-7.
As we entered the final quarter, winger Bobby Ogunode, who had hitherto impressed, was despatched for 10 minutes reflection.
However, given the conditions and nature of the game, it was a simple strategy to minimise the loss by keeping things tight. Therefore the home side were not able to profit from the man advantage as much as they might have done on a sunny dry afternoon.
Bakewell’s forward worked hard in the scrum to gain the upper hand and Hall had to be on top form to deal with things at the back. The home skipper and No.7 had a fine game, making life difficult for the visitors at the breakdown and close quarter work.
With 10 minutes left to play the overall damage done by numerous forward drives was taking its toll on the home side. At this point Liam Annable produced the impetus needed to put the game beyond doubt.
His bullocking run, which left half a dozen would-be tacklers in his wake, ended with Lewis Cowlishaw on his shoulder to collect the ball and slide over in the corner, capping a fine afternoon for the youngster.
With the score at 16-10 to the visitors, the final minutes were played out in home territory where much of the second half had taken place.
So at the final whistle the spoils went to Mansfield and Bakewell had to be content taking a hard-earned and well-deserved losing bonus point.
Mansfield host Coalville RFC at Eakring Road this weekend. Kick-off is at 2.15pm and you can follow the action on Twitter @MansfieldRugby.