Oldham Roughyheads 26 Hemel Stags 18
Hemel Stags were brought back down to earth as they suffered a narrow defeat at the hands of high-flying Oldham Roughyheads.
The Stags went into the clash full of confidence following their shock victory over table-topping North Wales Crusaders last time out, but a strong second half display from Oldham was enough to earn them the spoils.
It was the hosts who struck first in blustery conditions when Dale Bloomfield took advantage of a misplaced kick from Ben Young to scamper over the line.
Stags rallied, though, and were soon back on level terms through try-machine Mason Caton-Brown who forced his way over to level things up at 4-4.
Oldham restored their lead before half-time when Steven Nield touched down for a converted try, but Stags hit back again at the start of the second half.
It was that man Caton-Brown who did the damage again – latching onto a kick by Jermaine Coleman before crossing the line. BJ Swindells kicked the conversion to restore parity at 10-10.
Clearly buoyed by his successful conversion a few minutes earlier, Swindells was soon at it again – firing over a penalty from just short of the halfway line to give Stags a 12-10 lead.
Oldham, though, have a reputation for playing their best rugby in the last quarter of the game, and so it was again as they started their fightback in the 60th minute.
Danny Langtree barged a hole in the Stags defence to regain Oldham’s lead, and six minutes later Lewis Palfrey launched a power play on the fifth tackle.
He broke the Stags line before passing inside to Kenny Hughes who had acres of space in which to score. Palfrey successfully converted both tries to open up a ten-point lead at 22-12.
With 10 minutes left it looked as though the Stags would come away from the game with nothing – Bloomfield chalking up another Oldham try to leave Stags 14 points adrift.
Hemel had the last laught, however, as Swindells converted a Mike Forgham try to earn the Stags a valuable losing bonus point.