Midlands One East Rugby Union: Spalding 24 Mansfield 50
Spalding got off to a flying start but the game slipped away from them in the last 20 minutes.
Jeremy Darley, Harry Brown, Ben Hoyles and Sion Williams returned to the starting line up as Spalding fielded one of their strongest sides.
Mansfield went into the match with two league wins while Spalding are yet to get off the mark, but they were ahead after just two minutes as the pace of Josh Broome, playing on the right wing, took him clear of the opposition defence for the opening try.
The next 15 minutes saw Mansfield have the upper edge but good defending and some astute tactical kicking to touch by fly-half Dan Mackie resulted in Spalding steadily coming into the game.
A couple of penalties were conceded by both teams but with 20 minutes gone a successful penalty kick to touch by Spalding resulted in a lineout with Darley taking a clean catch.
A maul was set up and Spalding drove towards the try-line until the forwards were over and Darley had successfully grounded the ball.
The ten-point advantage only lasted a minute as Mansfield gained possession from the restart and their inside centre ran straight through for a converted try.
The Spalding scrum was going well and the forwards were picking and driving around the breakdown area and exerting some dominance.
A quick tap and go penalty by Spalding in Mansfield’s 22 nearly resulted in a try by a crossing offence allowed a Mansfield relieving penalty kick.
However the opposition were caught killing the ball at a ruck and a yellow card was produced by the referee.
Although a man down in the remaining four minutes, Spalding’s good work was undone with firstly Mansfield slotting over a penalty kick followed by a try by their forwards to give them a 15-10 half-time lead.
The second half did not start well for Spalding as they started to lose shape and discipline with Mansfield applying pressure.
Within the first ten minutes Spalding conceded four penalties and McLaren was yellow-carded for an offence at the breakdown.
Despite being one man down, Spalding took the game to Mansfield through the forwards and as the ball was delicately kicked through towards the try line one of the Spalding players was illegally held back, preventing a try.
That gave the referee no option but to award a penalty try which was converted to make the scoreline 17-15 with 20 minutes to go.
During the next 15 minutes Mansfield ran riot, scoring six unanswered tries and adding 35 points to go 50-17 up.
But at least the last play belonged to Spalding as they were attacking the Mansfield tryline.
A penalty conceded by Mansfield in front of the posts was taken quickly by scrum-half Will Shields and passed out to Dan Mackie at fly-half, who sent a lovely floating pass out to Brown to score and close the match.
As a result of scoring four tries Spalding came away with a losing bonus point.
Spalding again were hampered by injures. Early on Luke Scotney, playing open side flanker, suffered a repeat injury to his shoulder effecting his ability to tackle.
Jay Harwood, at blind side flanker, also suffered a shoulder injury and was replaced by Dave McLaren.
In the second half, full-back Hoyles had to leave the field with a leg injury and was replaced by Ryan Chappell, while Williams took a knock to his knee with Rob Lucas coming on.
Spalding: Ioannou (captain), Hudson, Cooke, Duerden, Darley, Harwood, Scotney, H. Brown, Shields, Mackie, Broome, Williams, G. Brown, Lake, Hoyles, Lucas, Chappell, McLaren.