HEMEL scored first and last in this League 1 opener but between those scores it was Oxford who dominated the game.
An inability by the visitors to complete their sets and a lack of discipline in the ruck were the causes of Hemel's downfall coupled with a dominant display by Oxford hooker Casey Canterbury.
In torrential rain Hemel got the scoreboard moving on three minutes, Jorge Richardson powering over for a try improved by Mitch Vincent. Their lead was short lived though as two minutes later Canterbury got the first of his hat trick of tries with a clever scoot on the last.
Oxford had kept the ball from the kick off following the Hemel try by dint of the ball being held up in the wind and them keeping possession. Burnett getting the first of four conversions as the ball bounced over off the post. Back to back penalties from Hemel and tricky running by Canterbury gave the field position for William Cooke to go in for an unconverted score. Minutes later and Canterbury got his second try, the ball coming loose over the line as it seemed Canterbury had spilled the ball in crossing but the referee decided it had been ripped and awarded the try. Burnett converted the score. Callum Bustin, on duel registration scored the first of his brace around the half hour mark with a strong charge that broke the Hemel line.
The final try of the half was perhaps the best worked one of the afternoon, Cooke's long pass out wide found Canterbury on the wing who then selflessly passed inside to Callum Windley who was able to cross the line nearer the posts allowing Burnett to convert and take the score at the break to 24-6.
The second half began with two disallowed "tries" for Oxford, the first for a foot in touch and the second for a forward pass that looked flat at worst. They were not the only dubious decisions of the game, both teams suffering equally from the referee's whistle. Try number six for Oxford came on 55 minutes, Hemel gave away a penalty on for offside on the line and Duane McRae profited by going in with Burnett getting the extras. Bustin bagged his second by going over from yet another Hemel penalty. To give the Stags credit they never gave up trying and a try looked odds on when speedy Winger Darren Forde broke on the right and was only caught by the chasing defence a few yards short of the chalk.
Oxford's final try and Canterbury's hat-trick started with a Hemel attack being halted when the Referee penalised them for some unknown reason, Oxford going fully 100 yards in two tackles before Canterbury dotted down. Hemel concluded the scoring for the day, duel registered Brad Clavering crossing the line powerfully. Vincent kicking the goal.
All in all not the highest quality game, Oxford can be well pleased with their dominant performance but Hemel Clearly have work to do if they are to be competitive
This coming Sunday (12th March) the Stags are at home to Hunslet with a 2:00pm kick off at Pennine Way.