Hinckley RFC opened up a gap at the top of the National North Division Two with a hard-fought win over bottom of the table Wharfdale, but Mansfield Town’s unbeaten run came to an end at Crawley and Derby County Ladies game succumbed to the weather.
Mansfield Town’s seven-match unbeaten run came to an end with a 2-0 defeat away to Crawley Town this afternoon.
It was a close and somewhat uneventful opening half with the only real chance falling for Mansfield in the third minute. Striker Jimmy Spencer held the ball up well and slipped it to winger CJ Hamilton who used his pace to round Crawley ‘keeper Glen Morris but Hamilton’s effort was too tame and defender Josh Yorwerth was able to clear it off the line.
In the second half, two Crawley substitutes made the difference to ensure the three points stayed in West Sussex. Defender Joe McNerney was introduced at the break and in the 63rd minute a Crawley corner was only cleared to Jordan Roberts and his brilliant delivery found McNerney inside the six-yard box and the defender was able to flick a header into the corner of the net, leaving Stags keeper Conrad Logan with no chance.
The score remained at 1-0 until the final minute of the 90. when Ibrahim Meite, another second-half introduction, raced clear of the Stags’ defence as they threw bodies forward in an attempt to force an equaliser before rounding goalkeeper Logan and finding the empty net.
A first-half hat-trick from winger Sam Driver plus a late try from centre Mitch Lamb was enough to see Hinckley home against bottom of the table Wharfedale. Another bonus point win saw the Leicester Road side open up clear water between themselves and the following pack at the half-way point in the season in National 2 North. But this was no walk in the park against the leagues bottom club.
The first try came after 16 minutes when, against the run of play, Sam Driver got on the end of an offload from Tom Wheatcroft and broke through the Dale midfield defence to romp over the line. Joe Glover could not make the conversion. The next try on 30 minutes was more or less a repeat of the first with Driver breaking tackles in midfield to again leave the Dale defence flailing.
Five minutes later, Driver grabbed his third after good work from the Hornet’s pack created space on the outside for the wing-man to finish. Again, though, Glover could not convert but Hinckley went in for the half-time break 15-0 up.
The visitors started the second half much the stronger and their relentless forward pressure eventually led to the referee walking under the posts to award a penalty try after 55 minutes when the Hornets pulled down a rolling maul on their own line. Fly-half Tom Barrett bagged the extras.
Dale continued to pressure with the Hornets pack seemingly unable to respond. It was no surprise, following another 5m scrum against the Hornets, that scrum-half Phil Woodhead dived over to bring Dale within 3. Barrett’s conversion made it 15-14 with 15 minutes to go.
A yellow card for Mark Deauville 2 minutes later only compounded Hinckley’s problems. Wharfdale went over shortly afterwards but to the home crowd’s relief, the officials adjudged that the ball had not been grounded. However, a series of pick and drives from the resultant scrum set up fly-half Barrett to deliver a drop goal which gave Dale the lead, 15-17, with just 7 minutes remaining.
This Hinckley side does not lie down, however. With the sensible money now on Dale, a break by Jamie Skerrit allowed Hinckley to break the Dale stranglehold and Mitch Lamb was on hand to finish the move. Joe Glover again missed the conversion but it was enough for Hinckley to win the game and move two points clear at the top of the table.