Bramley Buffaloes 12 Hemel Stags 30
The curtain came down on the regular league season for the Buffaloes at the Arthur Miller Stadium, the hosts pushing play-off bound Stags all the way.
The Buffaloes deservedly led at the break but after a half-time talk from Troy Perkins, Stags controlled much of the second half and led by man-of-the-match hooker Martyn Smith scored 20 unanswered points to seal victory.
There was nothing between the teams in the opening exchanges, both sides completed their sets, tried to gain good field position and then defend effectively.
The opening score came on five minutes when Buffaloes scrum half Liam Walsh chipped over the on-rushing Stags defence on half-way and beat Swindells to the bouncing ball and raced 40 metres to score a great try.
Despite spurning a couple of good opportunities, Stags drew level on 19 minutes when M’Baraga squeezed over in the corner, Ryan Butcher kicking an excellent touchline conversion, but the Buffaloes edged into a surprise but well deserved lead just minutes before half-time when they landed a penalty from half way.
The challenge at the break was for Hemel to lift their performance and turn their possession into points, whilst for the Buffaloes it was to build upon one of their best first half displays of the season.
Smith signalled his intent and his quality as he went perilously close to scoring on 44 minutes, only more fine scrambling defence kept him out.
Stags were dominating possession now and controlling the game and on 49 minutes Smith left the Bramley defence in tatters as he shimmied and weaved his way through on half way and raced clear to score, Butcher converting to edge the Stags in front 12-16. Hemel increased their lead on 54 minutes as Swindells swept over from a scrum 20 metres out.
The Buffaloes refused to fold despite having Graham Nash sin binned for a high shot. Nathan Lumb, Dave Parker, Harrison and Dodd in particular were all working hard both in defence and attack.
Hemel sensed that the Buffaloes were there for the kill and continued to dictate play and Fyson crossed for the Stags fifth try on 71 minutes which sealed the game.
Butcher converted and then added a further penalty as the clock ran down.
Troy Perkins now has to prepare his team for this week’s sudden death play-off against Welsh outfit Valley Cougars.