RUGBY: Sloping pitch sees Town slide to heavy defeat

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Mansfield 1st 44

TOWN were beaten 44-8 on the Mansfield slope.

Spalding had a good chance for an early score. Skipper Harry Sharman’s pass to Ollie Phillips gave him the opportunity to use his speed but instead of passing back inside to Sharman the winger tried to chip the ball over the covering Mansfield defence. It was taken cleanly by the full-back who replied with a grateful kick to touch.

Minutes later Spalding were totally committed going forward, so that when Mansfield won the ball deep in their 22m area and launched an attack from near their own line, the Spalding defence was lacking and there was no cover to prevent a converted try.

But it was Spalding next to score, soon after the restart.

Play was in the bottom corner of the Mansfield half and Dave Hankinson slotted a penalty between the uprights to make it 7-3 after 16 minutes.

Then the Mansfield kicker had a chance to extend the lead, but did not allow enough consideration for the strong breeze that carried the ball wide of the posts.

But they did soon score again after a counter-attack from deep in their own 22m area. Although centre Ben Hoyles was outstanding with his tackling all afternoon, Mansfield capitalised on a Town mistake and this time their kicker made it 10-3 on 35 minutes.

By now the home side’s confidence was building and as the end of the first half was nearing, Mansfield were awarded a penalty only five metres from the Spalding line. They chose to take a scrum and the ball was quickly passed down the line to their right winger who scored in the corner.

The conversion made the half-time score 17-3.

As the second half commenced it was obvious Mansfield would be using their knowledge of the elements and the slope of the field to entrench themselves deep in the visitors’ half. However, Spalding were able to defend well until midway through.

From a penalty, Mansfield kicked for touch, won the line-out and drove for the line to score an unconverted try.

Injuries started to be a concern for the visitors. Firstly, Sharman pulled a leg muscle and was replaced by new boy Jacob Harwood, who worked hard.

Then Mansfield again opened up the Town defence and scored another unconverted try for 27-3.

After an injury to Adam McHugh, JD Charlton was his replacement.

From the re-start Spalding took the play deep into the Mansfield half and won a line-out 25 metres out. An inside pass to Harwood saw him make ground and was within feet of scoring on his first outing.

But from this position a scrum to Spalding was won and the ball passed swiftly along the line and Charlton powered his way over for a try.

The conversion went wide and Town were forced to make their third replacement as second-row Tom Duerden limped off to be replaced by Peter Shakespeare.

The score at 27–8 looked out of reach for Spalding and over the last ten minutes Mansfield ran in three tries but were only successful with one conversion.

Spalding: Sharman (captain), Riddle, Dowse, Waudby, Haighton, T Duerden, E Duerden, H Brown, Lucas, Hankinson, Phillips, Hoyles, Williams, Chappell, McHugh, Shakespeare, JD Charlton, Harwood.