Hemel Stags coach Troy Perkins praised the ‘commitment’ of his side despite seeing them slip to their second defeat of the season at the hands of Swinton Lions.
The two sides met in the first game of the season in the League 1 Cup when Swinton came away easy 34-0 winners, but Hemel gave a much better account of themselves on Saturday as they went down 32-8.
Perkins said: “I thought we showed a lot more commitment today and matched Swinton in a lot of areas. But if you bomb tries and give up possession you cannot expect to win.”
Lions coach John Duffy added: “Credit to Hemel, they played a lot better today. We switched off today in the second half and you cannot afford to do that against any team.”
Hemel were without talisman BJ Swindells who pulled out on the day through injury, requiring a quick reshuffle.
The Stags were straight on to the front foot; an interception by Jy-Mel Coleman, who passed to Mo Agoro, was brought to a halt when Brandon Conway was bundled into touch close to the line.
Swinton were the first to score on 17 minutes, however, as a superb break by the impressive Ben White ended with Chris Rothwell going over on the left.
Richard Hawkyard couldn’t add the extras, but he did kick the next conversion as Andy Ball crossed on the left after Jordan James’ break made the yardage.
With the Lions in the ascendency, it was took some sturdy defending from Hemel to keep the score down; James was held up over the line followed closely by Matt Gardner being similarly denied.
The pressure did tell though on 39 minutes, however. Hemel were attacking the Swinton line when the visitors got a scrum, from which the quick thinking White kicked for Shaun Robinson to chase through, gather and score an easy touch down.
The first 10 minutes of the second half were end to end stuff; Hemel earned a repeat set and, as Derrell Olpherts was held back near the line, he passed inside to Ingarfield who spilled the pass.
Swinton came back with another try as Andy Ackers went in after Chris Rothwell was held up.
A trademark 40-20 by Coleman for Hemel got Eddie M’Baraga close, but they sent the ball right and Agoro touched down to register the home side’s first score.
Agoro nearly went over again but was pulled back; he passed to George Flanagan who had the line at his mercy but dropped the ball and a try went begging.
Hemel continued to press and Ryan Chester barged over for a second home try, but the scoreline was given a harsh look when both Mick Govin and Robinson crossed for Swinton before the hooter ended an absorbing contest.