Stags rumble Thunder to kick-start Championship One campaign in style

Mitch Barbara scored a hat-trick of tries for Hemel Stags agsinst Gateshead
Mitch Barbara scored a hat-trick of tries for Hemel Stags agsinst Gateshead
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Hemel Stags ran out 37-24 winners over Gateshead Thunder to register their first win of the 2014 Championship One campaign.

Hemel romped to a 26-6 lead at half-time and, despite a spirited response from Gateshead after the break, Stags held out to pick up the win.

The hosts were on the front foot almost straight away as Ben Young looked lively in the early exchanges, but it was Gateshead who scored first against the run of play through Matty Beharrell.

Hemel regrouped quickly, though, and hit back three minutes later when Young fed BJ Swindells who found a gap to score.

Aaron Small was next over the line for Hemel, with Swindells converting for a 10-6 lead, before Mitch Barbara added another converted try just two minutes later.

Thunder’s Carl Booth was given 10 minutes in the sin bin for punching, and Aaron Small extended the hosts’ advantage soon afterwards.

There was still time for Stags to add to their lead before half-time, with Jy-mel Coleman kicking for Barbara to touch down.

Gateshead were much improved after the interval and reduced the deficit after 44 minutes when ex-Hull KR man Chris Heil forced his way over for a converted score.

Two further tries from the visitors brought them to within two points of Hemel, but Michael Brown calmed the home fans’ nerves as he gathered a Coleman kick to score.

With full-time approaching, man of the match Coleman brought Stags some comfort by executing a drop-goal, before Barbara went over for a final try in the corner.

Swindells rubbed salt into the wound for Gateshead as his touchline conversion denied them a bonus point.