A glance at the 60-6 score line would indicate that Hemel Stags were well beaten by third place Rochdale Hornets on Sunday but that would not give the full picture.
When the Stags were on the front foot and attacking they looked impressive and capable with living with their more experienced visitors.
Hemel thought they had opened the scoring after only three minutes but Aaron Hall’s ‘try’ was ruled out for a technical infringement.
Rochdale took maximum advantage of their let off by going up the other end of the pitch and scoring themselves.
Man of the Match, winger Corey Lee broke the tackle to feed Danny Yates to finish the try, converted by Paul Crook.
A second Hornets try followed soon after. Hemel were penalised for ripping the ball in the tackle and it was Lee again who crossed.
Hemel replied on the quarter hour mark, some crisp passing through the backs and Dom Bryan, on loan from Championship side Dewsbury, was just able to reach out for the line. BJ Swindells made the difficult conversion to take Hemel within four points of Rochdale.
A mistake from the kick off gave Rochdale a good field position and a converted try was the result. It was some poor discipline by Hemel that was costing them and following a penalty by them for holding down James Tilley increased the Hornets’ lead.
Hemel now got on the front foot and for the next 15 minutes were almost camped in the Rochdale half but their experienced defence held firm.
A great break by Donald Kudangirana looked certain to end in a Hemel score but he was chased down and caught in a last gasp Rochdale tackle. Hemel continued to press and were unlucky to see Adams and then Shaw both held up over the line. Right on the half time hooter Lee got another try for Rochdale in the corner making the score 26-6 at the break.
Poor defending by the Stags saw them concede three tries in the first eight minutes of the second stanza, effectively sealing the outcome in the visitors’ favour.
Corey Lee chalked up his well deserved hat trick with a try under the posts on 64 minutes but it was very much against the run of play as again Hemel had enjoyed a sustained period of dominance again.
Two more Rochdale tries in the final 10 minutes gave the final score an unjust look to it but. Hemel Coach Troy Perkins will be able to take quite a few positives from the game.
On Sunday Hemel head to Doncaster before finishing the regular season at home to Newcastle on July 10.