Stags stun Crusaders

Hemel Stags 18
 North Wales Crusaders 10

Two tries from Mason Caton-Brown did the damage as Hemel Stags stunned Championship 1 leaders North Wales Crusaders in front of their biggest crowd of the season.

James Howitt put in a commanding performance for Hemel Stags against North Wales Crusaders.

James Howitt put in a commanding performance for Hemel Stags against North Wales Crusaders.

The Crusaders headed to Pennine Way boasting a 100 per cent record so far this season, but Hemel put in a tremendous effort to record the shock result of the campaign.

Hemel were without a few of their key players through injury and it was very much nip and tuck for the opening minutes of the game.

It was Stags who broke the deadlock, though, when a high kick from Ben Young allowed Caton-Brown to out-jump his marker and grab the ball to touch down.

It was end-to-end stuff and the Crusaders hit back after 20 minutes when Dan Birkett bagged his side’s opening try which was converted to give the visitors a 6-4 lead.

It was soon 10-4 as Gary Middlehurst ran in North Wales’ second try, but Hemel responded well to ensure the scores were locked at half-time.

Aaron Small showed good awareness to intercept a pass out wide, and the speedster raced 80 metres to touch down before BJ Swindells converted.

Both sides made good gains at the start of the second half, and Crusaders had the chance to kick a penalty for the lead but decided to go for the line instead and the chance went begging.

And that moment proved pivotal as the Stags seized their chance to snatch the unexpected victory.

With five minutes left to play, Hemel were awarded a penalty for ripping the ball and coach Troy Perkins was quick to send out the signal to take the two points on offer. Swindells duly obliged and made the score 12-10.

Stags could have been forgiven for shutting up shop, but they made the game safe with two minutes left to play.

A flick pass by Jermaine Coleman found the onrushing Caton-Brown who squeezed in by the right corner flag, before Swindells converted to cap a fine day for the Stags.

Next up for Hemel is a trip to Oldham RLFC on Sunday, 3pm kick-off.