Hemel Stags 21
Gateshead Thunder 20
Hemel Stags produced a thrilling one-point victory over Gateshead in their first ever home match in Championship 1.
Mike Bishay was the hero for Hemel, with his late drop-goal ensuring that the Stags continue their perfect start to life in the semi-professional ranks.
Going into the game on the back of a fine win over Ince Rose Bridge in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup, the Stags had been warned against complacency by coach Troy Perkins.
Despite the warning, Hemel fell behind when Omari Caro went over for the Thunder, but the hosts hit back as Ian Keevil’s try was converted by Bishay.
A converted Jack Smith try edged Gateshead back in front, but Mason Caton-Brown levelled things up.
With the game flowing from end to end, Aaron Small struck next to give the Stags a four-point lead, before another converted Smith try handed the initiative back to Thunder.
Spurred on by a loud Pennine Way crowd, Hemel fought back again and Mike Forgham put the Stags back in front at 20-16 with less than 10 minutes left.
Gateshead were not about to go down without a fight, though, and Jason Payne scored with four minutes remaining to make it 20-20.
That set the scene for Bishay to earn the plaudits, and he booted over the posts with two minutes left to snatch the win.