19th August 2018



H/T 0-14


The Stags came into the game with a new Head Coach, Jack Howieson, at the helm and with a squad list that was down to the bare bones in terms of fit players and so it was always going to be a tough ask to come away with the points at the expense of North Wales Crusaders.

At times the Stags were their own worse enemies by failing to complete their sets, coughing up the ball when in attack or conceding penalties in defence. It was just such a penalty that led to Crusaders getting the first score after 3 minutes.

Credit to the Stags because they got themselves onto the front foot and attacked the Welsh line strongly, Dean Roberts was putting in a good stint in the second row and was unlucky not to score when he couldn’t hold on to the ball in the effort of crossing the line. Roberts was one of the Hemel players who were injured during the game.

The second try of the game was on 12 minutes, being scored in the right corner. An unsuccessful conversion took the score to 8-0 to the visitors.

The Stags certainly didn’t look second best to their opponents and were giving Crusaders plenty to think about as they made several strong attacks. The Hemel forwards were working very hard, Greek Captain Stefanos Bastas looked particularly impressive whilst having arguably his best ever game for the club. The Stags were unlucky that their strong runs at the Crusaders line didn’t bring any points. Hooker Jono Burns was held up over the line, followed quickly after by Bastas after another powerful run.

It was against the run of play that the Welsh got their third try after 33 minutes and with the conversion the half time score was 0-14 and the Stags were certainly still in the game, there being little between the teams in terms of both score and performance at the break.

The Crusaders defence made a simple error from the kick off and the Stags were awarded a goal line drop out but didn’t take full advantage but the opening sets were again very equal.

Two tries in quick succession took the game away from Hemel, the first try was in the right hand corner and then a clever “show and go” from Crusaders scrum half got the second. An already depleted Stags side were further disadvantaged when key player Corey Hanson left the field with a suspected broken arm.

A scoot from dummy half got another try for the Welsh on the hour mark. Another try, a kick and chase to the left corner was well worked by North Wales but did have a hint of offside to it!  With two late tries, the second on the final hooter, bringing up the 50 mark the Welsh visitors deserved their victory but over the full 80 minutes of the game the Stags deserved better, having showed some good skills but ultimately they were undone by not doing the simple things as well as North Wales.