Stags pay the penalty as two late kicks earn the points for the Skolars

Hemel Stags club crest
Hemel Stags club crest

Matt Bradley kicked a drop goal and penalty in the closing minutes to snatch victory for London Skolars in an entertaining Good Friday clash with Hemel Stags at Pennine Way.

A tight first half ended with the sides locked at 12-12, before Skolars opened up a 12-point gap in the second half with tries from Louis Robinson and Judd Greenhalgh.

Hemel fought back with tries from Eddie Mbaraga and former Skolars player Aaron Small, but the game was decided by the boot of Bradley as the visitors ran out 27-24 winners.

It was London who kicked off and immediately got on the front foot, breaking the deadlock in the fourth minute when hooker Martyn Smith danced his way over the line for a try converted by Bradley.

Hemel drew level five minutes later when a kick on the last by scrum-half Mitch Barbera was fumbled by the Skolars defence, allowing BJ Swindells to drop on the ball as it crossed the line, before converting his own score.

It was the turn of the Stags to have the bulk of the possession and they were rewarded after 24 minutes when Barbera ran to the line unopposed. Swindells converted for a 12-6 lead.

But Skolars hit back through Smith as he crossed for his second try which was converted by Bradley to level the scores.

As has happened before this season, Hemel were caught cold at the start of the second half – a rebound from a Skolars kick bouncing kindly for Robinson to collect and score, while Bradley kept up his 100 per cent record with the conversion.

What was an at times fiery encounter took off half way through the second half when London Skolars loose forward Sam Wellings was given a red card for a dangerous high tackle.

It seemed to fire the away side on, though, and only a minute later Greenhalgh was able to post another four points. Bradley converted for a 12-point lead.

The Stags rallied, however, and M’Baraga’s try was converted by Swindells, before Small went over for another converted effort to bring the scores level.

But it was Skolars who had the final say; first Bradley struck with a drop goal, before the visiting kicker got the final score with a penalty to bring to a close a match that had kept the spectators entertained throughout.

Stags will be concerned with the well-being of Barbera, who had to receive treatment for a nasty looking injury – a suspected broken ankle being the diagnosis.

Next up for Hemel is a trip to face the University of Gloucestershire All Golds on Sunday May, 4. For ticket information, please visit www.hemelstags.com