Relieved Mansfield bounce back to secure first victory
Relieved Mansfield shrugged off their disturbing start to the new rugby union season when beating Nottingham Moderns 32-26 in their opening home fixture.
The blue-and-whites had been mauled 57-3 at Long Eaton in their first taste of 207/18 action in the Midlands 3 East (North) division of the National League.
But they put things right in a good, competitive contest, and also earned a bonus point after resisting several plucky fightbacks by the visitors.
Head coach Wayne Robinson said: “We opened up a good lead, and then they came back at us. We lost our shape a little at times, but I’m very happy with a bonus-point victory.”
The early exchanges were even as both sides tried to run with the ball. But Mansfield took the lead when a deft offload by front-rower Chris Hawkins enabled Sam Holmes to race 30 yards and register the first try. A tricky conversion was slotted by fly-half Nathan Hill.
Moderns hit back with a well-crafted try of their own, although the conversion was missed, before the hosts scored the next two tries, opening up a welcome 14-point lead at 19-5. The speed of Andreas Zacaharia created the first as he screamed through to dot down, and then youngster Zane Chiappetta, whose confidence is growing all the time, steamrollered through the spirited Moderns defence.
Moderns closed the gap by half-time with a penalty, and they also drew first blood in the second period, tearing through the home defence. A successfuil conversion brought the scores level at 19-19.
A penalty edged Mansfield back in front before Chiappetta struck again, dancing and powering through the defence to cap a man-of-the-match performance.
Once again, Moderns rallied, reducing the deficit to 27-26 to set up a nailbiting conclusion. But thankfully for the home supporters, the win was secured by Zacharia’s second try of the game after good work by Mark Wallace.