Frustrated Mansfield were left to rue one that got away as they slipped to a 17-10 defeat at home to high-flying Ashby, despite a terrific performance.
With Ashby second in the National League, Midlands 3 East (North) division and the blue-and-whites fourth, it was no surprise to see a tight encounter unfold. And after an engaging and pulsating game of rugby, just a solitary converted try was all that separated the teams, leaving Mansfield’s head coach Wayne Robinson to ponder what might have been.
“I though we played exceptionally well at times, “ said Robinson. “But we just couldn’t make all the pressure count in the right areas.”
Mansfield had to recover from conceding in the opening minute as Ashby, who looked a well-drilled outfit, got off to a spectacular start that really rattled the hosts.
However, Mansfield re-grouped and exerted their own pressure, which resulted in scrum-half Steve Repton darting over the try-line to pull the score back to 7-5, with a tricky conversion missed.
While nullifying Ashby’s attacking prowess, Mansfield remained on top, forcing penalty after penalty until, inevitably, a second try as John Tasker, who was superb all afternoon, cashed in on some powerful drives to give his team a three-point lead.
Unfortunately, that was to be their last score of the match as they missed a penalty soon after Ashby had drawn level with one of their own. But that isn’t to say the effort wasn’t there. Several standout displays from Tasker, Phil Pogmore, Regan Hubbard and man-of-the-match Harry Brough ensured they kept up the pressure with wave after wave of attacks.
Somehow, though, the visitors stood firm and when their opportunity came to break, they took it with relish, waltzing through the Mansfield defence for a winning try under the posts that was converted.
The rest of the game belonged to Mansfield, but the last pass just wouldn’t stick. A late penalty chance was squandered, and the jubilant cries of Ashby players at the final whistle showed how much it meant to hold on in the face of relentless attacks.