Mansfield edged closer to relegation with a disappointing performance and 55-5 defat against mid-table Derby.
There is still time to salvage something, but it will require a performance better than the display which left head coach Neil Stent rueing another match with no bonus points.
“We should have taken something away from this game,” he said. “We had chances to build momentum, we just didn’t deliver when we had them.”
Derby started confidently and opened the scoring after 10 minutes to go 7-0 up.
This game, much like most of the home team’s performances at Eakring Road this season, was not short of endeavour and industry.
The forwards worked tirelessly, doing their best to turn over the opposition ball, with Danny Ellis carrying and tidying up ball on the front line.
The backs also tried hard to slot phases together in order to break through a tight Derby defence.
However, in their attempts to find the chink in the away team’s armour the blue-and-whites only damaged themselves, with wild passes and dropped balls seeing any phase play unravelling.
Mansfield, under pressure from the steady battering ram that was Derby’s attack, conceded too many penalties.
And it proved costly as, from a penalty, gifting Derby took a lineout from which they scored under the posts to take a 14-0 lead.
It got much worse as Derby scored moments later to make it 21-0.
When Mansfield did have the ball they simply couldn’t keep hold of it.
A penalty allowed them the opportunity to build something from a lineout, but a dropped ball saw the momentum swing back to the away side, a situation that happened with alarming regularity.
As if to compound their misery, a Derby scrum saw them win their own ball and progress 80 metres upfield to register their fourth converted try and, with it, a bonus point.
Mansfield pulled a try back after a quick tap.
But that was as good as it was to get for Mansfield as Derby added another 27 points to their tally in the second half.
Tackles were missed, penalties were conceded, balls were dropped and a yellow card for foul play in a ruck saw the blue-and-whites spending most of the half on the defensive.
This performance was not without ambition and industry, but when a team makes as many mistakes as the home side did on Saturday it becomes very difficult to build any momentum.
Mansfield have showed they are a group of talented players, and with a youthful streak running through the core of the side it is clear they are a team still trying to find their collective identity and this will surely come in time.