Mansfield RUFC were left counting the cost after they blew a 14-0 lead to fall to a 26-14 defeat against Market Rasen and Louth.
A positive start saw the home side lead 14-0 after a quarter played, but that couldn’t be sustained and as the visitors turned it around to leave Eakring Road with the win.
Senior Coach Neil Stent was left rueing another missed opportunity and said: “The boys started really well. Fourteen points up after a quarter played was as much as we could ask for, but it’s frustrating that we couldn’t keep the intensity up for the whole game. It was there for us to win.”
The day started on an emotional note with both teams observing a minute’s silence for club member Lorraine Williams, who sadly passed away early on Thursday morning.
The game then got under way and the home team started much more positively with a level of commitment only seen in patches in previous weeks.
An early penalty attempt at the posts was missed and an interception attempt didn’t pay off, but this was a much better start.
Their industriousness was rewarded early on when the referee gave a penalty try after spotting an offence close to the line as Mansfield applied pressure to the Rasen defence. A simple conversion was slotted and Mansfield were 7-0 to the good.
Rasen were not about to roll over, though, and set about trying to punch through the Mansfield defence.
Mansfield had started to move away from the kicking game they employed earlier in the season, but a turnover by the blue-and-whites lead to a clearance kick straight to a Rasen defender.
Fortunately, he also decided to kick out of defence straight into the welcoming arms of Aiden McGregor who burst through the first tackle to sprint 40 metres untouched to score under the posts. Another successful conversion and Mansfield lead 14-0.
This would be the last score for the home team as Rasen battled back into the game.
Rasen’s dominant scrum was causing real problems for Mansfield’s pack.
This was no better exemplified than a penalty try awarded to the away team after winning four scrum penalties while camped on the home team’s five meter line. A simple conversion was successful, bringing Rasen back into the game at 14-7.
The remainder of the half was much of a stalemate as the Rasen scrum stayed dominant, with the Mansfield defence also staying solid.
Mansfield started the second half with much the same vigour as the first, however, simple mistakes were beginning to creep in to halt momentum.
Rasen were determined to even up the score and it was only a magnificent covering tackle by winner Emanuel Ogunode, driving the attacker into touch that stopped a certain try out wide.
Unfortunately, that only caused a temporary reprieve for the home side as they were about to be hit with a triple whammy in the space of 10 minutes.
First, Rasen got their try, a 5m charge from a front rower proving unstoppable. However, an unsuccessful conversion saw Mansfield still with the slenderest of leads, 14-12.
Second, a conceded penalty saw the home team switch off, allowing a quick tap and sprint from 50 metres for Rasen to score their third try under the posts. A simple conversion pushing Rasen into a 19-14 lead.
Finally, a penalty against the Mansfield skipper saw him dismissed, rather harshly, to the sin bin for ten minutes.
One more try for the away team sealed a bonus point victory for them, taking the score to 26-14 and putting Mansfield out of reach of a losing bonus point.
A yellow card for a Rasen player for a deliberate knock on was not enough to let Mansfield back into the game and the final whistle blew on a disappointing second half.
Mansfield started both halves positively, with a creativity and commitment that had been missing in previous games. However, conceding two quick tries and being reduced to 14 men was something they couldn’t recover from.
Next week, Mansfield travel to Newark. You can follow the action on Twitter @MansfieldRugby.