Mansfield RUFC’s slow start to the season continued with another defeat, losing 47-15 against Syston at Eakring Road on Saturday.
A young team showed impressive signs of cohesion and daring at times, but these glimpses were not enough to inspire victory.
The first quarter saw Mansfield 22 points down and with two men off the field.
Ill-discipline and indecisiveness resulted in useable possession being given away to a Syston team that were all too willing to take advantage.
An early penalty kick took Syston into a 3-0 lead before a succession of penalties saw Syston work their way up to Mansfield’s 5m line.
The referee decided an infringement close to the line was enough to warrant a yellow card before, rather harshly, allowing a quick penalty to be taken while the player was still walking off the field. To Syston’s credit, they were alert and finished off a well-worked try, missing the conversion.
The second yellow came only a few minutes later. A Syston scrum on the Mansfield 5m line was disrupted by illegal play resulting in a penalty try. Another try shortly after bought seven more points and a 22-0 lead for Syston.
So 20 minutes in and Mansfield were facing a monumental task that even Hercules would have struggled with.
Mansfield showed signs of their continuing development with some deft work around the base of the rucks and some darting play in the midfield.
Unfortunately, signs of inexperience were still apparent and basic mistakes led to them turning over the ball in promising situations.
A dropped goal was enough to get them on the board after half an hour, but two more Syston trys before half-time bought the score to 32-3 at the break.
Mansfield started the second half much more positively with a well-worked try after 10 minutes, but the conversion was missed, bringing the score to 32-8.
The team seemed like they were starting to believe they could play good rugby and, while the first half saw indecisive kicking and unforced errors, the second saw more confidence with the ball in hand and some promising play to advance them further up the field. However, those simple mistakes were again costing them.
Perhaps a good sign of Mansfield’s growing determination was Syston’s decision to go for posts after being awarded a penalty rather than kicking for the corner. The penalty was kicked to nudge Syston up to 35 points.
The third quarter resulted in some messy play from both sides and we weren’t treated to another score until the final 10 minutes when, after another succession of penalties, Syston went over in the corner for another impressive try. The conversion sailed wide to keep the score at 40-8.
This seemed to ignite a fire in the Blue and Whites and, again showing signs of confidence and assertion, a second try was theirs. The conversion was successful to bring the score to 40-15.
However, Syston weren’t done and, with no time on the clock, they scored another impressive try and conversion to bring the final score to 47-15.
This performance by Mansfield will leave them disappointed to have not taken any points from two home games on the bounce.
However, with a young team they are very much building for the future.
It remains to be seen but there were glimpses that, if the core of this team can remain stable for the rest of the season, we will see good things from them in time.
Mansfield are away at Market Rasen this Saturday. You can follow the action on Twitter @MansfieldRugby.