Summer is well and truly over. September normally gifts us with some hot weather, the dying remnants of summer, that allow running some running rugby. It seems that is over for this season as Saturday’s game was an early introduction to wet weather conditions we’re going to have to get used to. On this occasion, Mansfield struggled to adapt to going down to 14 and let a game slip away within that 10 minute period.
Head coach Wayne Robinson was disappointed with the overall outcome: “There are a few areas of discipline we need to work on and we know we let this one get away from us.”
The visitors were put under pressure fairly quickly with the home side winning a penalty within the first couple of minutes. However, nothing came of that and the they were the first to register points, a converted try taking them into the lead, 7-nil.
Then the rain started. Southwell’s game plan appeared to be fairly simple: get the ball out wide and offload wherever possible. This worked while the weather remained reasonably dry, it did lead to their first score, after all. However, once the rain started it became clear that the visitors seemingly had no Plan B as the offload game is what they stuck with. This clearly wasn’t working as most of the remainder of the first half was a battle of attrition that neither team could establish control of. Mansfield were full of vigour an determination and Southwell kept flinging the ball around but the conditions meant nothing was sticking and the game entered a period of stalemate.
Of the two teams, it was the blue-and-whites who ultimately handled the conditions better as the visitors conceded a number of penalties and saw a yellow card reduce their number to 14. The home team took advantage with a lineout drive seeing matchday sponsor Stopford Accountant’s Man of the Match Kian Johnson drive over and put Mansfield on the board. A successful conversion from Taran Elms saw the teams equal – 7 apiece.
Another penalty was soon added to the tally, Elms slotting it between the posts to put Mansfield in the lead for the first time, 10-7 as the game neared half time.
However, the final play of the half, a long half nearing 50 minutes, went to the visitors who put themselves back in to the lead with another try. A successful conversion took them into a half time lead 14-10.
The second half did not go the home team’s way at all. As the weather dried a little Southwell could now execute their initial plan, which they did very well. A yellow card for the home team put them under pressure soon after the break. Southwell to their credit took full advantage of this, scoring two tries, one unconverted, to add another 12 points to their tally, taking their lead to 26 points to 10.
This would be the last points scored in the game, the final score being 26-10 to Southwell. The home team couldn’t get a grip on this half, most of the possession belonging to the visitors, which they used well. When Mansfield did get the ball, it was kicked away or lost, a profligacy that has haunted them in past seasons.
The visitors did see another yellow card in the second half but, unlike the first, the home team couldn’t make the advantage pay. The final whistle came as Mansfield unleashed one final attack on the visitor’s line but they just couldn’t finish it. A 10 minute spell down to 14 men cost the home side dearly. It was an even contest up to that point, but the 12 points conceded during that period was ultimately the difference between the two teams. For their efforts Southwell take home the Ted Lane memorial trophy, which is an homage to Mansfield’s founder President and as the mother club to the blue & whites, is a trophy contested each time Mansfield and Southwell play.
Next week Mansfield travel to Mellish. You can follow the action on Twitter, @Mansfieldrugby