An impressive haul of seven tries, including three for Joe Ducker, earned Mansfield a runaway victory and a maximum return of five points from a trip to struggling Chesterfield Panthers.
The home side, who sit next to bottom in the Midlands 3 East (North) division of the National League, were shorn of several first-team players. But Mansfield showed no mercy and stormed to a 47-10 success on a bitterly cold day at the edge of the Peak District.
It cemented their position of seventh in the 12-team table, just three points behind fourth spot, and left coach Wayne Robinson naturally upbeat. “The conditions were awful for both sides, but I was pleased with the way we took our chances,” he said. “It sets up nicely for this Saturday’s home match against Grimsby.”
To their credit, the Derbyshire outfit, made up mostly of second and third-team players, were outstanding in the way they stuck to the task, contested aggressively at the breakdown and scored two excellent tries of their own.
But Mansfield had too much firepower, taking the lead in the tenth minute when the ball found its way to Ducker who, playing in his preferred position of centre, carved his way through four would-be tacklers to score just wide of the posts. Ryan Haywood slotted the conversion.
It didn’t take long before the visitors were able to feed the hungry Ducker again and, this time, he found a big hole in the middle of the park to dot down under the posts. Haywood converted once more to make the score 14-0.
As the first quarter closed, the Chesterfield pack, who more than held their own all afternoon, fashioned a well-worked try through several forward drives. But then more fine work from the blue-and-whites’ forwards created a gap for evergreen prop Liam Grant, who showed a clean pair of heals for the last 15 metres to claim his first score of the season, extending the lead to 21-5 by half-time.
The home side drew first blood in the second half as they harried and hassled a desperate defence to produce a kick ahead and pounce on the loose ball for their second try.
However, their spirit was dented when Mark Wallace thundered his way through for Mansfield’s bonus-point try, which was again converted by Haywood and effectively put the visitors out of sight at 28-10.
Just three minutes later, Ducker claimed his hat-trick with the try of the game. Gathering the ball on the halfway line, he forged his way through half a dozen tackles to score just wide of the posts, making the conversion easy for Haywood.
Two more tries followed, with one coming from youngster Jack Hodkin, who squeezed his way into the corner, and the final score from the industrious Pat
Johnson, who burrowed his way through the forward pack.