Mansfield RUFC secure bonus point victory after thrashing Belper

Mansfield won their final game before Christmas with a convincing 41-7 victory over Belper, writes Peter Steffen.

Monday, 20th December 2021, 9:46 am
Updated Monday, 20th December 2021, 9:46 am
Mansfield eased past Belper to collect a bonus point win.

While the home team have been picking up regular victories so far this season, bonus points have been few and far between.

That changed this Saturday with a six try performance on a weekend that saw all but two games in this league called off..

Head coach Wayne Robinson was pleased with how his team played and for picking up the bonus point, adding: “It was good to see us pick up a bonus point, we’ve been close on a couple of occasions so to do it just before a couple of weeks off was a positive way to end this half of the season.”

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The first 10 minutes was a very competitive affair. Mansfield were forcing penalties and gaining territory up the field.

The first score of the game came from Harry Brough as he exploited a gap and beat a couple of defenders to score. It’s a good job he did because there was an overlap ready to be exploited.

However, he backed himself and made sure to finish the job. A successful conversion by John-Ross Ward saw the home team in the lead, 7-0.

A penalty soon after added to the home score, 10-0 and beginning to gain momentum.

Unfortunately, the Belper scrum was something the home team couldn’t deal with and, for the first half at least, the visitors dominated, making it difficult for the blue-and-whites to win clean ball on their own scrum. This, coupled with a touch of white line fever and an affinity to not move the ball beyond fly half, meant that the aforementioned momentum ebbed and flowed throughout the game.

A yellow card for the home team and the previously mentioned struggling scrum saw Belper turn over a set piece, chip the ball through, collect it and score. A brilliant example of turning defence in to attack.

A successful conversion took the visitors’ score to 7 and within touching distance. Unfortunately for Belper, despite deserving more, that would be their only points in the game.

From the kickoff, Ward saw an opportunity to break some tackles and gladly took it, delivering Mansfield’s second score and an immediate riposte. A successful conversion saw the home team extend their lead, 17-7. That would be the half time score.

The second half saw Mansfield build on their lead and score 4 more tries. It perhaps took longer for the blue-and-whites to find their stride than it should have done but once they did, they were able to thread some nice phases of play together with a commanding performance by matchday sponsor Woodforde’s Brewery’s Man of the Match Nathan Jones.

An early penalty saw Phil Pogmore tap quickly and go on a quite marvellous run. There was still lots of work to be done, the penalty occurring a considerable distance from the try line, but Pogmore had the power and stamina to finish it off and managed to dot the ball down under the posts, ensuring a successful conversion from Ward. The home team had extended their lead, 24-7.

This is where Belper began to get on the wrong side of the referee and concede penalties. Despite this, it was the home team who received a second yellow card.

That said, the introduction of Conway Evans to the scrum ensured the home team stabilised the set piece enough to win their own ball and create an attacking platform.

Zak Walters was the beneficiary of some sustained territory to score the blue-and-whites’ 4th try, securing the precious bonus point. A tricky conversion was missed but the lead was beginning to look unassailable as the last 20 minutes ticked down and the visitors were visibly tiring.

The last two tries belonged to Ward and Regan Hubbard who had another barnstorming performance. Both tries came from sustained possession and strong, tackle-breaking running to bolster the team’s confidence and ensure the victory was sealed.

One of the two tries was converted, and the final whistle saw the home team end the first half of the season with a decisive victory and the full five points.