Mansfield ride the storm for victory

Mansfield RUFC stormed to a 27-10 victory over Peterborough in appalling weather conditions that saw lightning strike a floodlight pylon at Eakring Road on Saturday.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 27th January 2014, 9:13 am
MNAC-Mansfield Rugby v Peterborough
MNAC-Mansfield Rugby v Peterborough

On a day that started out fairly dry, the weather soon became the focus in a valiant display by both teams determined to get a win after a pulsating 32-all draw at Peterborough in October.

The clear day made way to some very ominous looking black clouds and the odd flash of forked lightning, suggesting the weather would influence proceedings.

This was the case as the opening 10 minutes of the game were played much between the two 10m lines, with an early Mansfield penalty kick not quite hitting the mark.

As the lightning streaked across the sky, the teams beneath were involved in a battle Zeus himself would have enjoyed.

As the rain started to fall mistakes were made by both sides struggling to deal with the slippery ball. It was turning into the type of game that is best kept in the forwards but, to their credit, both teams tried to play some running rugby.

The weather soon decided it wanted to play its part, and in the next 10 minutes players and spectators alike were treated to a fine display of the unpredictability of British conditions.

As the clouds spread over the sky, first came the rain, then came the hail and then, rumbling like a freight train from somewhere beyond Eakring Road, came the wind.

Howling across the pitch, ripping the post protectors off the posts and tearing the advertising hoardings from their metal railings, this gale of ‘almost’ biblical proportions was powerful enough for the referee to, quite rightly, call a temporary halt to the game on grounds of player safety.

A strike of lightning to one of the floodlights put the game in doubt as a lengthy delay would invariably see much of the daylight lost. With no floodlights the game would be in serious danger of being abandoned.

Luckily for everyone involved the inclement conditions passed nearly as quickly as they had arrived and the game was promptly restarted with a scrum inside the Mansfield half.

With much of the play again taking part between the two 10m lines, it was Peterborough who struck first.

penalty inside the Mansfield 22 was quickly taken and the away side skipped through the Mansfield defence to score under the posts. An easy conversion added the two points and Peterborough were up 7-0 after 22 minutes.

This seemed to galvanise the home side and some good work up the park lead to a penalty for Mansfield and a yellow card for Peterborough, the referee adjudging the defender to be offside at the lineout.

With the kick deftly placed between the posts, Mansfield were on the scoreboard at 7-3.

Unfortunately, a penalty from the resulting kick-off gave Peterborough the chance to pressure the Mansfield line again.

Good work from the home side resulted in a turnover but the weather was still playing its part and the slippery ball was proving hard to keep hold of.

A bit of afters on the floor resulted in a Peterborough penalty and a yellow card for Mansfield’s Jono Williams. The resulting kick was through the posts and Peterborough were back to a seven point lead at 10-3.

Again, this seemed to galvanise Mansfield and, with a man down, sustained pressure on the Peterborough line bought a try of their own, match day sponsor Rainworth Skoda’s man of the match Joe Symcox crashing over for the first of his hat-trick. The conversion was unsuccessful and the half time score read 10-8 to Peterborough.

The second half saw Mansfield come out a much more positive side.

After four minutes Symcox grabbed his brace and put Mansfield into the lead for the first time. With just a five point lead, Mansfield knew it would not be enough against a dogged and determined Peterborough side.

A yellow card for Peterborough after 29 minutes gave the home team the advantage for much of the rest of the game and sustained assault on the Peterborough line resulted in Symcox picking up his hat-trick try. The conversion was good and Mansfield extended their lead to 20-10 with minutes remaining.

Excellent defence from Peterborough gave them a chance to clear their lines and end the game.

The weather had one last roll of the dice, though, and the ball squirted free, allowing Mansfield’s Danny ‘Budda’ Ellis to pounce and secure Mansfield’s bonus point try.

With the conversion sailing over, the referee blew his whistle, bringing a thoroughly entertaining game to its end

Both teams deserve huge credit for the way they played in some of the worst conditions ever seen at Mansfield.

This Saturday sees the team travel to Moderns in the County Cup. Kick-off is at 2.15pm and you can follow the action on Twitter @MansfieldRugby.