HEMEL STAGS 12
LONDON SKOLARS 22
The Stags came out of this 3rd round Ladbrokes Challenge Cup tie second best to local rivals and fellow League 1 side the London Skolars but a last minute try for the visitors gave an unbalanced look to the scoreline as, although Skolars did shade it, they were pushed very close by the Stags.
Hemel kicked off into a very strong and blustery wind, Skolars making the most of the wind advantage by putting heavy pressure on the Hemel line but good defence from the Stags kept them at bay.
Eventually Skolars did breach the Hemel defence, on 9 minutes big forward Lamot Bryan forcing over the line for a try converted by Charlie Lawrence, one of several ex Hemel players in the London side.
Play was held up for quite a while while Hemel's Roddy Jonas suffered an accidental neck injury, the unlucky Centre being carried from the field on a stretcher but later recovered enough to watch the rest of the game from the sidelines.
Skolars increased their lead on 25 minutes with a converted try for Billy Driver after Hemel had been penalised for holding down. There was no more scores registered before the sides turned round with Skolars 12-0 to the good.
Eight minutes into the second half, another penalty to Skolars right on the Hemel line led to another former Stags man Aaron Small diving over for the try. Shortly after Hemel lost Alex Williiams to the sin-bin for ten minutes when he gave the referee the benefit of his advice! It didn't seem to affect the Stags much and they started to turn the game in their favour, building pressure on the Skolars' defence,Wayne Jowitt and new signing Declan Gregory being held up in quick succession as the Skolars began to buckle. Eventually Hemel did break through when a good move across the field enabled Winger Darren Forde to squeeze in by the right corner post. Mitch Vincent made the difficult conversion look easy.
Five minutes later and Hemel were on the scoreboard again, a clever scoot by Gregory gave him a try on his debut and when Vincent kicked the goal there was only 4 points between the teams with 7 minutes left to play and it began to look that the Stags might just pull off a shock win!. That hope disappeared when, right on the hooter back to back penalties to London gave them good field position, Martin crossing the line for a try converted by the reliable Lawrence.