BUFFALOES PUNISHED BY STAGS IN THE SUN
Hemel Stags 60 (28) v Bramley Buffaloes 14 (6)
The Buffaloes poor away form continued as they slipped to their fourth straight away defeat as they were comprehensively beaten 60-14 at a sun drenched Pennine Way on Sunday. Once again soft early tries were conceded and Hemel held the upper hand throughout, inspired by livewire hooker Martin Smith who also scored a hat trick for good measure.
Once again there was a raft of team changes form the Buffaloes, supplemented further by Steve Suddards, Matthew Brook and Joe Bartle making their debuts. Hemel also made changes following their uninspiring performance at Featherstone the previous week. Ash Fryson and Connor Boyd-Barnes returned to the back line, whilst Adam Hill and Eddie M’Baraga returned to the pack.
In baking conditions and under a clear blue sky both sides completed their opening couple of sets with no alarms however from a run-of-the-mill play the ball on the Buffaloes 30m line Radan fed Martin Smith who evaded two tackles to score under the posts after 3 minutes. By any standard, this was another poor try to concede early in a game, particularly as the team did not look under any great pressure. Butcher converted, 6-0. Buffaloes Loose Forward Nathan Smith limped off after 9 minutes with an ankle injury. Despite having to drop out the Buffaloes defended the wave of Hemel attacks and just as they looked to have settled into the game up popped Smith again on 14 minutes to score an almost exact replica of his first tries. Although there looked to be little between the teams, Hemel were leading 12-0. That became 18-0 on 19 minutes when after a rare foray towards the Stags try line, a 20m restart and 2 penalties later saw Fryson get in at the corner after a mercurial run again by Smith had again caused confusion in the Buffaloes defence. Hafeez Yusufu became the second casualty of the half when he got a finger in the eye on 21 minutes. Danny Stocks got 10 minutes in the sin bin for the Stags after throwing punches on 24 minutes; however this did not stop the Stags increasing their lead further on 29 minutes when Juma made good metres before sending Jerry Rice over by the posts. The Buffaloes responded on 34 minutes when after good approach play a Graham Harrison was played at and the Buffaloes got a repeat set 10m out from the Hemel line. Despite strong Stags defence Ross Peel forced his way over from short range to breathe life into the team. Louie Barrett converted easily. Unfortunately the Buffaloes finished the half as they had started, conceding a late try to Juma on the back of two more penalties.
Hemel made the perfect start to the second half as the Buffaloes were penalised on the very first tackle. Butcher made good metres with his penalty to touch and from the resulting play Smith completed his hat-trick as he wriggled out of several poor tackles to score under the posts, 34-6. The Buffaloes struggled throughout the game to mount any sustained pressure on the Stags defence, indeed at times Hemel looked world beaters as they threw the ball around. Nevertheless the Buffaloes stemmed the tide until Sam Booker was sin-binned for leading with the elbow. Down to 12 men and carrying injuries, impressive fullback Duane Platt was carried off on 52 minutes not to return just like Hafeez Yesufu. Nathan Smith did return despite his ankle injury and Reece Spurr filled in at full back. Capitalising on the Buffaloes situation Anthony scored a good try in the corner on 53 minutes. Once again the Buffaloes hit back when Harrison stabbed through a kick and Sam Matthews who worked really hard all game, dived to touch the ball down after it had struck a Stags player. Barrett’s touch-line kick came back of the post, 40-10. Ash Fryson scored a quality try when he jumped highest to collect a cross-field kick on 62 minutes. Matthew Brook bulldozed over within 4 minutes to add more respectability to the score before Juma crossed for 2 more quick-fire tries to complete a well taken hat-trick on debut for the Stags. Butcher adding two more excellent conversions. Graham Nash was mistaken for Graham Harrison by the referee and sin binned for a high shot on Juma. There still remained sufficient time for Radan to kick through on the final play of the game, the ball ricocheted off Shaun Flynn who made good ground to try to collect the kick, however the ball went straight to Butcher who scored unopposed under the posts.
Hemel Stags were the better team as the score suggests, this was their first home win over the Buffaloes since their 14-6 success in February 2005 in a Northern rail Cup game. On the day Hemel made less errors and capitalised on the Buffaloes shortcomings in ruthless fashion.
In contrast the Buffaloes paid a heavy price for quite frankly some poor defence and ill discipline. Injuries did not help but that is no excuse. Defence down the middle of the park and around the ruck was as poor as it has been at any time this season. That said there is no denying that the lads, everyone of them, tried. Defence is the key if we are to be competitive as we look useful in attack; however we are spending too much game time on the defensive, conceding penalties and then soft tries. Still there is always next week and speaking to some of the team afterwards they are as keen as the supporters to turn it round. As Bryan Ferry sang “Let’s stick together”.
Game star: Martin Smith caused all sorts of problems for the Buffaloes all afternoon and scored an excellent hat-trick of tries.
Game breaker: Smith’s two early tries gave the Stags early ascendancy and his third try within 2 minutes of the second half restart sealed the game.
Hemel Stags: 1. Mitch Henderson, 2. Oscar O’Mara, 3. Jerry Rice, 4. Alex Anthony, 5. Ash Fryson, 6. Connor Boyd-Barnes, 7. Ryan Butcher, 8. Adam Hill, 9. Martin Smith, 10. Illia Radan, 11. Eddie M’Baraga, 12. Tim Thompson-Essex, 13. Dave Madigan, Subs; (all used) 14. Tom Sadler, 15. Lameck Juma, 16. Connor Farrell, 17. Danny Stocks.
Tries: Smith 3(3, 14 & 42), Juma 3(38, 70 & 75), Fyson 2(18 & 62), Rice (29), Anthony (53), Butcher (79)
Goals: Butcher 8(8/11)
Bramley Buffaloes: 1. Duane Platt, 2. Steve Suddards, 3. Shaun Flynn, 4. Tom Langton, 5. Reece Spurr, 6. Louie Barrett, 7. Graham Harrison, 8. Matthew Brook, 9. Ross Peel, 10. Dave Parker, 11. Sam Matthews, 12. Ash Taylor, 13. Nathan Smith, Subs: (all used) 14. Hafeez Yesufu, 15. Joe Bartle, 16. Sam Booker, 17. Graham Nash.
Tries: Peel (34), Matthews (57), Brook (66)
Goals: Barrett (1/3)
Referee: Darren Hayes
Penalty Count: 9(6) – 4(3)
Danny Socks (Stags) 24 mins – Punching
Matthew Brook (Buffaloes) 57 mins – Leading with elbow
Graham Nash (Buffaloes) 75 mins – High tackle
Man of the Match:
Hemel Stags: Martin Smith
Bramley Buffaloes: Louie Barrett