For Mannerians’ final match of the season, as has been the case for the last three seasons, West Bridgford was the opponents. Following their victory against Oakham last week the Derbyshire side were keen to build on that result and complete a successful season.
It was to be Coach Mark Burnett’s final game with the club, and his side were keen to put on a display for him as thanks for the efforts and style of rugby he’s introduced since being in charge. On the whole, he can be proud of what he’s brought to the club and will be leaving it in a strong position with a very healthy platform on which to build in the coming seasons.
With the usual West Bridgford pitch unavailable, the game took place on a local park, on a much smaller and sloping pitch. Playing with the wind and the slope in the first half Mannerians knew they had to make a good start. This they did and the only thing missing in the first 5 minutes was a score. The pack built on last week’s performance and was dominant in the scrum and the loose, with man-of-the-match Ben Furness
particularly prominent, which was allowing the backs a solid platform on which to build. Ill-discipline, however, allowed West Bridgford to clear their lines and they began to exert some pressure on the Mannerian defence. Following a turnover in their own 22, Mannerians showed quick hands to move the ball right to winger Tom Oldfield
to outpace his opposite man to score from 70 metres. With the conversion added Mannerians led 7-0.
The second try wasn’t long in coming. Patient build-up in the Bridgford half saw Mannerians move the ball forward. Instead of moving the ball to the open side, scrum-half Joe Williams
spotted space on the short-side and picked out Al Ashton who finished well in the corner having used his strength to beat some would-be tacklers. Again the conversion was good and the visitors led 14-0.
Mannerians switched off some-what and began to play as individuals, and when some poor first up tackles were missed allowing the home side to break the line, their first score was inevitable. Albeit unconverted, Bridgford were back in it. 14-5
Fortunately Mannerians soon found themselves on the front foot and from a set move off the back of the scrum the ball was passed to winger Tom Crapper
whose chip ahead was gathered well close to the line for him to score yet another try in what has been a fantastic season for him personally. 19-5
Despite some scrappy play for the next ten minutes or so, the pack were winning the majority of scrums against the head which allowed Mannerians to play territory and in the right areas of the pitch. The fourth and bonus point try arrived 5 minutes before the break following some good close drives from the pack before the ball was moved to the skipper who’s pass found Henry Bagshawe
arriving at pace to charge over from close range. The successful conversion moved the score out to 26-5.
There was still time for the home side to score an unconverted try on the stroke of half-time when from a scrum that was suspiciously close to having moved round 90 degrees, the scrum-half picked and ran in unopposed to bring the score at the break to 26-10.
Playing up the slope in the second half Bakewell knew they had to keep things closer and would need to work hard to gain territory against the elements.
replaced Joe Williams
at scrum-half shortly after the break and within 30 seconds was on the score sheet having picked from the base of the scrum on halfway and outpaced the covering defence. 31-10
scored the next try close to the hour mark following some good inter-linking passing up the right touchline that involved the skipper and Henry Bagshawe
. The successful conversion made the score 38-10.
Then came the incident that spoiled the whole match. Paul Webster
emerged from a ruck in a large amount of pain and his eye covered in blood. The result of which means he needs to have an operation to repair the damaged muscle on his eyelid – and all because one player thought it necessary to stamp on the face of an opponent. Something that has no place in any game, no matter how far behind on the scoreboard your team is. The whole club wishes Paul well for his recovery which hopefully won’t keep the self-employed builder off work for too long.
Rob Middlemiss came on to replace Webster with Henry Bagshawe
moving into the pack, and with Martin Pearce
replacing the ever-impressive Henry Lofthouse
for the final twenty minutes there was no respite for the home pack.
completed his hat-trick after 65 minutes with another well –taken finish and will hopefully have given him his confidence back as he looks towards next season. The conversion moved the score to 45-10 as Mannerians looked to reach 50 points for the first time since the beginning of December.
The home side got their final try with ten minutes to play and with the conversion added brought the score to 45-17, as they looked to try and secure a bonus point fourth try.
Fittingly it was Mannerians that finished the match and the season with the final try, after some aggressive and skilful running from Jack Duncan
before a timely off-load to replacement Tom Bell
to dart over in the corner for his second try. With Will Moroney landing the conversion his side had the final say and the season was soon brought to an end with the scoreline at 52-17.
Despite not moving up a place as results didn’t go in the club’s favour, a sixth placed finish might seem a bit disappointing after how well things had gone up to Xmas, however, at least the side can look back and identify the matches where perhaps if things had been done differently there were plenty of points they didn’t take and on other days might have finished higher. That said there’s no point in thinking what might have been, instead we should look forward to what could be in the coming season and seasons beyond that.
The club were the second highest point scorers in the league, and gained more points than last season due to securing bonus points, be them winning or losing ones.
With the likes of Max Crampton
, Ben Sizer
and Rob Wells
being back for the new season, then it will be like having three new quality players back to the club as two didn’t manage a single game due to injury this season. With players like Ben Furness
and Henry Lofthouse
improving each week, and the ever-impressive Tom Crapper
and Al Ashton adapting to new positions in the backs, then things look good. Any further recruitment will be a bonus.
It’s important for the club to move quickly in replacing Mark as head coach so they don’t lose any of the momentum that has been gained since his arrival, and things are happening in this respect.
Thanks should be made to everyone involved at the club throughout the season, from the committee to team management, to all the sponsors and supporters, but as important from a personal point of view, to my team-mates who have given everything this season, and have never shirked a challenge. Whilst the off-season will be welcomed by my tired body, the prospect of the new season is an exciting one, and one that will no doubt be here before we know it.
Enjoy the summer.
Mannerians: Furness, Driscoll S, Lofthouse (Pearce), Driscoll D, Webster (Middlemiss), Brocklehurst, Turner, Boam, Williams (Bell), Moroney (c), Crapper, Bagshawe, Duncan, Oldfield, Ashton
Tries: Oldfield (3), Ashton, Crapper, Bagshawe, Bell (2)
Conversions: Moroney (6)