Having watched Saracens play their final warm up match against Bedford On Friday 29th I had a weekend of doing house type (boring) things planned. But I really couldn’t finish off my summer holidays that way! So I went to watch Colchester United play Peterborough; they were playing with a strange round shaped ball and not a one picked it up and ran! In spite of that I really enjoyed my afternoon at the sparkling Weston Homes Community Stadium and I’ll certainly go back, rugby allowing of course! That just left Sunday; I thought I could go look at some new carpet, do some food shopping, maybe some hovering. Or then again, I could make my way to Hemel Hempstead to watch a spot of rugby league! The decision took me ooh I’d say maybe 40 seconds, sport or boring? Sport wins every time! I’ve always enjoyed watching rugby at Hemel; it’s a very friendly club and the team play an entertaining brand of rugby league; often with an edge.
The game was an important one, against southern rivals the Gloucestershire All Golds; both teams were in a good position to push and find themselves in a play-off spot. A win for Hemel and an added no points on the day for Gateshead Thunder would see them with a likely home play-off. With the rugby league season winding up I was hoping for a good game; I wasn’t disappointed! Hemel kicked off and Jarrod Ward made a great break as several tackles were missed. As play progressed the Stags knocked on well within their own half; the All Golds failed to take advantage however as a forward pass stopped them progressing. Another mistake by Stags in the form of a penalty gave the All Golds another opportunity; this time they took it, with several missed tackles in the build-up; it was Jarrod Ward who made the ground again passing to Craig Cook who ran in to score the try. Matt Bradley added the extras. Not quite the start the home team were hoping for. Stags came back strongly after they were awarded a penalty for a shoulder barge. Jermaine Coleman passed out to Matt Cook and was promptly taken out, but the pass to Michael Brown saw him run in to score a great try. BJ Swindells stepped up and converted the try. We had a spell of errors by both sides as Stags attacked well; a wild pass was thrown straight into touch. The All Golds knocked on in their own half; but the Stags knocked on wasting the advantage. Hemel were awarded the put in to another scrum and Jy-Mel Coleman spotting a huge gap kicked the ball into space; Michael Brown won the race to the ball and scored a truly exciting try! One of those shouting loud moments that I seem to find myself going through at rugby of both varieties! BJ Swindells converted with what was a much easier kick. Jy-Mel was to be scorer rather than provider for the next Stags try, he looked to have made the wrong decision with the direction of play, but threw a dummy and scored himself; another great Stags try. Another BJ Swindells conversion. There is often an edge when it comes to games of this nature, fairly close rivals with lots to play for. Things got lively after what looked like a dangerous tackle on James Cameron, he was lifted about the horizontal without a doubt; it was hard to tell from the stands if the tackle went all the way, but by Cameron’s reaction I can only presume it did. The retaliation was punished and the penalty reversed. Jermaine Coleman showed 2 great turns of pace that were to put an end to his game. The 1st was a great tackle on Miles Fairbank after he caught a high kick from Jy-Mel Coleman, Fairbank knocked on giving advantage to The Stags. An interception by Ben White saw Jermaine streaking down the pitch after him. Had White carried on running he’d would have been likely to score; as it was he was caught and tackled. Having gone behind the home team went in at half time ahead with the scores on Hemel Stags 18 Gloucestershire All Golds 6.
The Stags increased their lead after a nothing set apiece after half time as The All Golds gave away another penalty; Alex Ingerfield stormed through to score under the posts; another easy conversion for BJ Swindells. In spite of the fact I’ve watched rugby league live for around 18 years it’s really only became totally plain to me since I started writing about it that mistakes, particularly in your own half are the biggest factor in the final result. Whether those mistakes take the form of a dropped ball, a forward pass, an infringement at the play the ball or even an error by the officials, in general if you make more errors you concede tries and are likely to lose games no matter who you are! Matt Cook benefited from a series of errors in scoring the next try for Hemel Stags. The 1st of those blips was a loose pass by Stags giving the All Golds a chance to break; the final kick was very well taken by Jamal Chisholm. The next error may well have been an error on the part of the officials as Jarrod Ward was deemed to have dropped the ball; a penalty to the visitors wouldn’t have gone amiss as it looked as if the tackler interfered after the tackle. The ball back with the home side in The All Golds half resulted in that try for Cook in the corner; a hard kick for Swindells, but he wasn’t in the mood for missing! Hemel were on fire after their half time talk and the next score resulted in one of the best celebrations I think I’ve seen on a rugby pitch! Owain Griffiths made a superb break and run, passing to Ciaren Clement-Pascall who was on his shoulder, the celebration polished off a great try! The conversion? Scored of course! Jy-Mel Coleman was the architect of what was to be Hemels’ last try of the game; his high kick was fumbled by the All Golds giving the home team 6 more; a great pass by Jy-Mel to James Cameron saw the full back storm through to score. BJ Swindells faced with another difficult conversion made it 7 out of 7, an immaculate display by the sometimes fiery Hemel man! Now this was the time when things went a bit awry for the home team; the score now sat on Hemel Stags 42 Gloucestershire All Golds 6.
We were to be treated to more tries but they all went the way of the visitors; the 1st arose from a Stags error, with a knock on as the ball was kicked off at the restart. Matt Bradley showed his class with a looping pass to his winger, who flicked the ball back inside to Jamie Crowther who ran in to score. Bradley converted the try. Phil Cowburn looked to have squandered a chance minutes later for the Gloucester team as he ignored an overlap, however backing himself was the right choice, he threw a dummy and scored another good try. Bradley added the 2 and the gap was narrowing. Rugby league can be all about momentum and at this point in the game it was with the visitors. The Stags had some territory but a knock on at the play the ball gave away the advantage. We were treated to a couple of good runs with Sam Teo and Jamie Crowther showing their heels to the Stags and Jamie Crowther doing the same in return. All 3 runs were thwarted however. Matt Bradley made an uncharacteristic error by missing touch from a penalty; the Stags were then awarded their own penalty as there was interference at the play the ball. Jy-Mel Coleman chose to kick, from what was a fair distance, he duly added the 2 points. The All Golds had the final word with a try being awarded to Miles Fairbank, the referee checked with the touch judge who really seemed to be way too far away to judge, but, a try it was. The conversion made the final score Hemel Stags 44 Gloucestershire All Golds 24. A thoroughly entertaining game of rugby league!