Bakewell Mannerians 1sts 15 Aylestone St James 1sts 5
The promising start to the New Year continued as Mannerians produced a controlled display in a win where the scoreline flattered the visitors a little.
Aylestone St James are flying high in the league but a disciplined display by Mannerians proved too much for them.
With the Showground again unplayable, the match was switched to Chesterfield, thus denying Mannerians a rare home advantage.
The Stonegravels pitch was heavy, but with inspirational skipper Max Crampton leading from the front, the Bakewell side made light of the conditions, starting with energy and confidence.
Ethan Bagshawe had another fine afternoon at scrum half, firing passes out with accuracy, harrying his opposite man, kicking judiciously and making sniping inside runs.
The first 15 minutes saw Mannerians play rugby as good as you’d see anywhere. The pace and quality had the visitors gasping. Will Moroney gave centres Rob Wells and Henry Bagshawe room to weave their magic, and the fast rucking forwards produced a stream of possession.
Unfortunately, Bagshawe the Elder left early, a precautionary move after he felt a twinge, and was replaced by Will Froggatt. Froggatt was instrumental in carrying play up field, abetted by Jake Ward on the wing, and the forwards arrived to build a platform in the ’22.
Jimmies lined up to defend and, spotting a gap close to the breakdown, flanker Will Brocklehurst pounced and outstripped the defence to score. The conversion dropped short, but Will Moroney soon added a penalty.
The pace was upped as Martin Pearce came on for the bloodied Ben Hopkinson but Mannerians then found themselves down to 14 as Froggatt was led from the field following a clash of heads.
This setback enabled Jimmies to impose their attritional style for a period and they fought to narrow the gap with a well-worked try.
After a number of offences, the visiting openside was sinbinned. Tom Armstrong’s introduction gave Mannerians a new focal point, and Jimmies were on the back foot.
The front row of Crampton, Peter Fearn and Peter Carr first contained and then started to dominate their opponents, and Brocklehurst and Ben Sizer worked tirelessly to shut down any visiting flurries of action.
Tom Spencer and Dan Driscoll bossed the lineout, carrying the ball at speed and generally being a nuisance, while the restored Hopkinson gambolled about like a lamb spotting green shoots emerging from the Chesterfield mud. And, as the sides turned around and Mannerians got the slope, their confidence grew.
Fired up by half-time words from Crampton and coach Mark Burnett, the Bakewell outfit tore into the visitors and set up camp in their half. Tom Crapper and Jack Duncan ran back any clearances with interest, and, but for a slight lack of precision, Mannerians might have been a further three tries up.
Eventually, the pack worked a position that left Jimmies facing a two against five nightmare, and Mannerians batted the ball wide until Wells took control, gathered and straightened to score under the posts. Moroney had the simplest of conversions.
Indeed, as the match wore on, and Mannerians’ defence grew ever more solid, it was Jimmies who took the role their opponents had in the corresponding fixture in Leicester: carping at the referee, each other and anyone else who might listen.
Mannerians’ success was founded on a miserly defence. They knew that, given the breaks, tries would come – but there was no way the visitors were getting any more.
Manager Joe Oldfield was again delighted by his team’s application. “I thought the discipline and the defence were both magnificent. Max is coming into his own as a leader, and the young lads who’ve now been with us for three or four seasons are showing a real maturity.”
l Matlock’s match at Syston fell foul of the weather.
and was called off due to a frozen pitch.