Hemel Stags came up just short against Hunslet Hawks on Sunday as they were beaten 44-28 in a scoreline which flattered the hosts.
With less than five minutes left on the clock, the Stags were only four points behind their hosts and looked as though they could pinch the game at the death.
However, it was not to be, and it was the Yorkshiremen who scored two tries in the last two minutes to give the final score a harsh look from the Stags point of view.
With 10 minutes of the game gone it looked like Hemel were in for a beating after James Duckworth and Ayden Faal both squeezed in at the right hand corner for Hunslet. One of the tries was converted by Simon Brown, with the Stags yet to have touched the ball.
Maybe the Hawks thought that this was going to be a stroll and became complacent, but whatever the reason, the Stags bounced straight back at them.
First to get his name on the scoresheet was new signing Chris Clough who has played for Hemel before while on loan from Hunslet. The big forward used his size to good effect to charge powerfully through his former team-mates and cross the line.
The next try came from pacy winger Reece Rance who was fed by Tuoyo Egoro and broke the tackle before speeding down the right wing to dot the ball down. The conversion from Ben Stead took Hemel into the lead for the first time in the game.
When Mike Stewart crossed shortly afterwards for the first of his two tries, Hunslet looked stunned, while Hemel were impressive in all departments.
Ollie Toms caught the eye with his powerful runs and clever offloads, however Hunslet responded with two tries from George Flanagan.
Hemel’s Kameron Pearce-Paul ensured that the sides would go into the break level, though, when he broke through some soft Hunslet defending to make the score 22 -22 at half-time.
It was Hunslet who scored first in the second period when Liam Mackay crashed over from a Danny Thomas pass, but the Stags responded in fine fashion as Stewart ran fully 30 metres following another impressive Toms break to bag his second try.
As the game was nearing its conclusion the Hunslet fans were getting nervous, however two quick tries from Mackay and Watson put the game beyond Hemel.
At times the Stags looked the better of the two sides and it is clear that their fitness levels have improved greatly since the start of the season.
If coach Troy Perkins and his team can continue with this improvement, things look promising for the rest of the campaign.
Hemel Stags: Josh Spearing, Harrison Brough, Tuoyo Egodo, Kameron Pearce-Paul, Reece Rance, Barry John Swindells, Ben Stead, Arron Hall, Liam O’Callaghan, Matt Ross, Chris Clough, Ollie Toms, Kyle Greene. Subs: Mike Stewart, Dave O’Connor, Josh Halstead, Alex Gibley.