Stags Shine through the Showdown
Match report by James Gray.
Photographs by Lewis Mitchell
The Hemel Stags proved too much for the travelling All Golds in their play-off showdown. As the home side ran away easy 44-24 victors.
No game had had such importance this season, when the University of Gloucestershire All Golds travelled to Hertfordshire to take on the Hemel Stags. Victory for either side could guarantee a play-off spot and a place in the clubs history.
After a disappointing defeat last time out to the London Skolars, the All Golds started brightly against the Stags with quick play and good forward momentum. Therefore, it was no surprise to see the visitors take the lead; Jarrod Ward showed some real pace to break down the left wing and executed his inside pass perfectly for Craig Cook to score the opener. Matthew Bradley adding the extras on his return.
It had been a rather slow start for Hemel, who were gradually trying to get into the game. But they can thank the All Golds for offering up their first real opportunity. A needless penalty off the ball allowed the home side to come forward with real purpose, and Michael Brown found space to score and level proceedings.
After their try, Hemel increased their forward motion and as the tempo increased the Stags mounted the pressure. It didn’t come instantly for the home side who had to persist and work hard for their lead, but it would come in the end and it would be clinical. Two tries in the space of eight minutes placed Hemel in a commanding position, as they proved much the improved side during the later periods of the first half.
Quick thinking gave Brown his second try of the game, when a clever kick and chase from the scrum caught the away side napping. Browns try was a fantastic example of natural speed, but the next was down to the Stags constant and mounting pressure. Jy-mel Coleman was on the end of a precise move, importantly putting the home side 18 points to 6 in-front before the break.
With the amount riding on this fixture, tensions were high and it was understandable that tempers would flare. On a couple of occasions the two sides clashed off the ball, but luckily referee Gareth Hewer extinguished the dramas before they got out of control.
Going into the second period, Steve McCormack hoped his side would come out lively and energetic to reverse the deficit. But since the start of the All Golds professional venture Hemel have been somewhat of a ‘bogey’ side, with a 100% record against today’s travellers. And they lived up to that trait with a convincing second half performance, ultimately seeing off their play-off rivals within ten minutes.
The All Golds had conceded penalties at their peril this afternoon, as the small pitch gave Hemel great field position. Previous scorer Jy-Mel Coleman this time slip through Alex Lingarfield, who’s try edged the Stags closer to victory, only for Matthew Cook to all put settle the tie moments later. The centre seemed to get over far too easily as the home side could almost begin to celebrate.
Much like his side, Cariern Clement-Pascall would run clear of the opposition to extend his teams advantage, shortly to be followed home by James Cameron. Hemel were dominating the possession in the second half and now in complete control of proceedings with a commanding 36 point lead.
It had been a nightmare period for the away side, but they showed could spirit to fight on despite the circumstances. Tries from Jamie Crowther and Phil Cowburn showed elements of what had been so effective for much of this season, as the visitors now tried to get within bonus point territory.
It was only a faint possibility of a bonus point, but the home side weren’t willing to take any chances. So when the penalty arrived Jy-Mel Coleman took the two points and confirmed that the All Golds would be heading back to Gloucestershire with nothing to show for their efforts.
There was still time left for Miles Fairbank to add his name to the score sheet, but it was all about the home side, whose victory all but ensures there place in the play-offs providing there’s no shocks next weekend.
As for the visitors, countless injuries has been the undoing for McCormack’s team who will no doubt give everything next Sunday against Oldham, while there is still the chance of reaching the play-offs no matter how unlikely.
Words from an obviously disappointed Steve McCormack:
“We had a really good start, but in the middle part of the game, probably 20 minutes before half time and 20 minutes after they totally dominated. They were really good going forward and with both Coleman’s they showed a lot of class.
“We could have collapsed the last 20 minutes but we didn’t, and that’s something we can take forward to next week.”
Man of the Match:
|Hemel Stags||The University of Gloucestershire All Golds|
|2. James Cameron5. Jamel Chisholm
4. Michael Brown
18. Matt Cook
3. Aaron Small
6. Jermaine Coleman
7. Jy-mel Coleman
8. Dom Maloney
14. Evan Simons
10. Dan Ljizouli
15. Steve Banister
12. Bj Swindells
19. Eddie M’Baraga
13. Alex Ingerfield
20. Ryan Chester
17. Owain Griffiths
12. Cariern Clement-Pascall
|1. Phil Cowburn2. Jarrod Ward
4. Jamie Crowther
11. Sam Te’o
5. Scott Claridge
8. Ben White
3. Matthew Bradley
17. Chris Vitalini
19. Craig Cook
10. Izaak Duffy
15. Miles Fairbank
18. Connor Nolan
16. Ashley Haynes
13. Brendan Smith
6. Mark Barlow
17. Joe McLean
20. Casey Canterbury