Bristol Sonics 19 Hemel Stags 8
Hemel Stags fell victim to an inspired Bristol Sonics display as the league’s bottom side caused a big upset.
The Sonics, who remain rooted to the bottom of the table despite a run of three straight victories, came from behind to record their best win of the season.
After a scoreless first half in which defences were on top and errors were common, Hemel opened the scoring on 48 minutes.
Forcing an error from the home side in their own 20, the Stags quickly worked the ball wide to winger Oli Fountain, who squeezed in at the corner.
Many spectators expected the floodgates to open, but Bristol dug in and were soon ahead.
After gaining field position following a penalty for a needless cheap shot by a Hemel forward, Sonics’ skipper Dom Swann released winger Mike Norman, who stepped back inside and rounded full back Barry-John Swindells to score. Swann added the extras to give the hosts a vital 2-point lead.
Hopes of an upset were increased after 68 minutes, when Swann’s beautifully timed pass found centre Mike Gatson. He sprinted 35 metres to crash over underneath the posts, with Swann converting to make it 12-4.
Hemel quickly hit back, however, with Fountain squeezing in at the right corner, but crucially the conversion was missed.
With time running out, Dom Swann slotted over a drop goal to inch Bristol five points ahead, before Mike Gatson intercepted a loose Hemel pass and sprinted 40 metres to touch down. Swann’s conversion secured win for his side.
Hemel now find themselves in a fight to remain at the top of the table.
On Sunday, the Stags play Warrington at 2.30pm at Pennine Way and are calling for the town to get behind them to help them get back on track.