Hemel Stags drew 22-22 with London Broncos U19 in an evenly contested game at The Trailfinders Sports Club, writes Ian Henshaw.
It looked as though it was going to be a long evening for the Hemel squad when, from the kick-off, their defence spilled the ball and London hooker Matt Davies went in easily under the posts, with Dan Wellden converting.
Hemel woke up and immediately went on the attack as Mitch Stephenson went close but good home defence forced him into touch,
However, the defence was breached soon afterwards when a clever off-load in the tackle by Scott Ellis fed Andy Kay to cross the line. Chad Isles missed the kick in the strong wind.
With the rain pouring, both sides were guilty of making unforced errors, but on 13 minutes Hemel strung together some impressive passes to allow Harrison Brough to score in the corner against his old club. Ben Stead made the tricky touchline kick.
Quick reactions by Callum Whitcombe opened the Stags line and he looked set to score but Hemel chased him down just in time to end his run.
However, Broncos retook the lead on 22 minutes as a lazy-looking Hemel defence allowed Davies to scoot under the posts from 10 yards to register his second try. Wellden added the extras.
Hemel’s Liam O’Callaghan went in under the sticks for what seemed a valid try until it was ruled out by the officials, presumably for a forward pass – making it a two-point lead for London at the break.
Hemel soon retook the lead when the game resumed, pouncing on a loose ball, and some quick hands put Brough in for his second try. Stags have found a useful kicker in Stead who again made the touchline kick look easy.
In a see-saw encounter, London levelled the scores with a spectacular try. Whicombe caught a high ball on his own 40-yard line and proved unstoppable in sprinting down the left wing and touching down. Welldon missed the conversion.
A long 40-20 from Hemel was wasted as they knocked on from the scrum, but a spell of pressure ended with Chad Isles throwing a dummy and jinking under the posts. Stead duly made it a six-point score.
Hemel’s lead lasted all of two minutes as Meadows’ short kick-off meant London kept possession, with Rob Butler going in for a try converted by Wellden to ensure the game ended all square.
Stags: Josh Spearing, Jack Field, Harrison Brough, Scott Ellis, John Kirby, Ben Stead, Chad Isles, Adam Booth, Andy Kay, Victor Coker, Kyal Green, Barry John Swindells, Luke Paterson. Subs: Reece Rance, Chris Hall, Tala Petelo, Liam O’Callaghan, Joe Hales, Michael Liversidge, Ash Gyngell, Mitch Stephenson.