Shellshocked Amber Valley 4th were on the receiving end of a rare rugby century when battered by Buxton in the Midlands 4 East (North) division of the National League.
Although only five places separated the two teams at the start of the game at Sunnyfields, it finished with a yawning gulf between them as the runaway leaders Buxton raced to a landslide win by 102 points to five.
After a performance that had the club’s director of rugby, Karl de Groot, purring, the Stags extended their lead at the top of the table to 15 points with a flawless record of played ten, won ten.
“I was extremely pleased with the way we applied the tactics that we had discussed,” said de Groot. “Against such a poor outfit as Amber Valley, it would have been simple to lose our shape, with players playing for personal gain, rather than the team.
“It was our first competitive game for a couple of weeks and this, combined with the bad weather and the Christmas and New Year break, meant we hadn’t played any rugby, certainly not at home.
“So the lads have been working hard off the pitch, and you could see the application of that hard work in our set-plays. We just need to sharpen up our match fitness a bit now and we will be in good shape for the rest of the season.”
It was the third time the teams have met this term, and it turned into the archetypal one-sided first-team-versus-fourth-team encounter.
As usual, Buxton began at a high tempo and it wasn’t long before forward pressure resulted in Greg Mellor going over in the corner.
Not long afterwards, Simeon Meek trundled over the line, with Ryan Sircar adding the extras, and before Amber Valley could hope to settle into a rhythm, they were 12-0 down.
Mellor was then left unmarked from a planned move by the backs and was sent through the gap by Tommy McGuigan for another try.
The viitors rallied to score a try of their own before Mellor completed his hat-trick to give the Stags a half-time lead of 24-5 and one bonus point already in the bag.
The second period started in remarkable fashion, with a flurry of seven tries -- two from Sircar, two from Dean Wagstaff, two from Mellor and one from Gavin Passey to shoot the score up to 69-5.
Flanker Ben Austin then showed some real back-row class with a counter-attacking move that teed up Sircar to complete his treble.
More strong running from the forwards, most notably Chris Rees and Dan Corthorn, allowed Mellor and Austin to pile on more points, and the afternoon was finished off by Alex Edwards and Ainsley Armstrong going over, after some silky passing by Sam Edwards, to take Buxton into three figures.
Although there are still eight matches to play, promotion and the title are almost guaranteed now for the Stags. Their next fixture is this Saturday, away to Worksop, who sit third from bottom in the table after just two wins from their nine games so far.