Scorpions sneak a close contest
IN a match played in atrocious conditions at Pennine Way, South Wales Scorpions sneaked a 22-20 win over Hemel Stags to keep up their hunt for a last-16 place in the Northern Rail Cup.
It was reminiscent of Celtic Crusaders' first ever game which was played here — identical weather conditions and a Welsh win — though the state of the pitch was much worse.
The game could have gone either way, with weather the only winner in a match that really should have been called off before it started.
The mudbath contest was an historic match in more ways than one.
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As well as it being the Hemel Hempstead side's first ever home game as a professional club, it was also the first time the Scorpions had fielded an unchanged 1 to 17 in their history.
And the consistency worked as all Scorpions players gave maximum effort, as did the Stags, to secure the win.
Dalton Grant pounced on his own grubber as he dribbled the ball through soccer-style to give Scorpions the lead on five minutes. Ollie Olds converted.
Stags almost got on to the board to level things straightaway but Aaron Small was pushed into touch.
But they did level on 21 minutes when Alex Ingafield was among a bunch of players who leapt on a grubber kick to score and Chris Melling converted.
And they took the lead six minutes before half-time when Melling made a clean break to run 20 metres to the tryline, converting his own try.
Scorpions levelled minutes later when Sam Powell scored just left of the sticks, with Olds converting, and the teams were rightly even going into the interval.
Hemel had the better of the first period of the second half, both in attack and defence.
Ash Fryson saved a try before Joe Burke could ground from Olds' grubber.
Scorpions kept up the attacking but the unfortunate Steve Parry lost the ball when it slipped out of his hands. From there, Stags won a further penalty and worked their way upfield and Melling gave them the lead when he leapt on to a grubber. This time he missed the conversion.
Stags kept up the pressure and scored again when Aiden Pritchard dived over from short range. Crucially, the kick was missed.
But Scorpions hit back when star man James Tutuila bulldozed his way through, fighting off five Stags players to score. Olds converted.
Following a long delay due to an injury to Wayne Kelly received when Tutuila scored his try, Scorpions went for the winner.
Alex Jones was pushed into touch when diving to score, but in the end Tutuila played the ball out to Grant on the opposite wing for the vital try.
Olds, who also played a blinder, missed the kick. The half-back then attempted to get more points on the ball as he chipped for David James, who was beaten to the ball. He then attempted a drop-goal as the hooter sounded.
But in the end, in a game that could have gone either way, Scorpions just about saw the game through and Stags must be happy with a bonus point.