Patient Mansfield blow away those Christmas cobwebs

Action from Mansfield RUFC's 27-7 victory over Rolls-Royce at Eakring Road on Saturday.
Action from Mansfield RUFC's 27-7 victory over Rolls-Royce at Eakring Road on Saturday.

Relieved Mansfield blew away their Christmas cobwebs to return to winning ways and cement their top-four position in the Midlands 3 East (North) division of the National League.

The blue-and-whites had questions to answer after a shock defeat at the hands of bottom-of-the-table Nottingham Moderns the previous week in their first match since the festive break.

But a comprehensive 27-7 victory in a thrilling game against Rolls-Royce, fuelled by an unanswered tally of 22 points in the second half, was much more like it, leaving head coach Wayne Robinson pleased with the patience shown by his team.

“The first half was tough, but we didn’t lose our composure,” said Robinson. “We reacted well and played some cohesive rugby after the interval.”

The visiting Derbyshire outfit registered the first try of the game, soaking up early pressure before carving their way through a fragile Mansfield defence. A successful conversion left them 7-0 up with less than a quarter played.

No-one at the time could have predicted that was to be Rolls’s only score, especially as the rest of the opening half was largely stalemate. Indeed the visitors hung on to the slenderest of 7-5 leads by the break, even though Zane Chiappetta reduced the deficit for the hosts after a deft chip over the top of the defence.

Mansfield’s second-half turnaround began when a penalty from John Ross Ward edged them in front at 8-7. Rolls’s attacking threat remained, but with the home defence shored up at last, the momentum swung.

Quick recycling on the floor and swift passing through the hands led to Chiapetta racing 40 metres for his second try, and this triggered a period of relentless pressure and territory from Mansfield. The forward pack became more and more energised, while man-of-the-match Kyan Johnson excelled.

The lead increased to 20-7 when a delightful sidestep five metres out enabled Nathan Hill to cross the line under the posts and Ward to slot the extras with ease.

Unlike previous weeks, the blue-and-whites refused to ease up and more battering of the Rolls defence resulted in a bonus-point try as skipper Liam Grant emerged from a pile of bodies.

This Saturday (2.15 pm), Mansfield are on their travels to struggling Sileby Town.