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Hemel Stags 22-42 Gateshead Thunder

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Article Courtesy of Ian Henshaw. Video courtesy of Hemel Stags TV

WATCH MATCH HIGHLIGHTS HERE - COURTESY OF HEMEL STAGS RL TV

WATCH POST GAME INTERVIEWS HERE - COURTESY OF HEMEL STAGS TV

This was the first game that Championship 1 new boys Hemel Stags had played against their peers and the Thunder proved to be determined opponants and worthy winners, although in truth there was less between the two sides than the final score suggests.

Hemel were the first to attack, a charging run by big prop James Howitt brought a kick on the last by Sharp which proved too long. The opening try went against the run of play up to that point and was scored by the visitors on 7 minutes when Nick Johnson went over in the right corner, Hardcastle's kick improving the score.

Hemel very nearly levelled the score, Jack Molloy just being held up over the lime, but level it they did when Gateshead spilt the ball in the middle of the park and a surprised Aaron Small picked up the loose ball and sprinted under the posts unopposed. Hemel's veteren kicker Swindells opening his account for this year with the conversion.

Thunder began to enjoy a purple patch as the Stags were on the wrong end of some penalty decisions, mainly for technical offences that would probably have gone unpunished in their amateur days. Jason Payne was the recipient of a superb off load in the tackle from Parker toscore out on the left, this was quickly followed by Centre Josh Neilson going over following a Thunder penalty. Another penalty, this time for offside against the Hemel defence saw Stephen Welton get his name on the score sheet on the 1/2 hour mark.

It looked as though the Northerners were going to go further ahead until Full Back Forgham pulled out a fantastic try saving tackle. This seemed to inspire the home side and they thrilled their supporters with some great offloads forcing Thunder into kicking out from under the posts for a repeat set. All the pressure paid off when, almost on 1/2 time, sub Prop Ian Keevil used his strength to carry his tacklers over the try line Swindells' conversion making the score 12-20 at the break.

Hemel started the 2nd half meaning business, dominating the visitors in the early exchanges, aussie Chad Sharp kicking a 40-20 but the gateshead defence worked hard to turn things back in their favour, and as in the first half they scored against the run of play, blades making a break of 60 yrds before sending Parker in at the corner.

Giant Thunder prop Jack Stearman had caused the home side problems all game and it was another of his storming runs that brought the next score, he offlloaded to Luke Hardcastle, quick hands by the full back feeding Neilson who touched down.

An audacious long and high pass to the left wing was well caught by Blades for another Thunder try. Hemel were not going to let the visitors have it all and came back into the game, putting good pressure on the Thunder line.

A superb bomb by Ben Young caused panic in the defence and Chad Sharp scored a well deserved Hemel try.

Stearman finally got a deserved try when he forced his way over to bring up the 40 points for thunder but it was Hemel who finished the game the strongest, Aaron Small being unlucky to get no reward for a jinking 60m run that bamboozled the opposition but the

Stags did get the last word when, following some heavy pressure the thunder defence were unable to prevent young Harry Mostyn from going over.

Both Coaches declared themselves happy with the workout and confirmed they would be taking a lot of positives away.

HEMEL

Tries - Small (14), Keevil (38), Sharp (67), Mostyn(76)

Goals - Swindells 3/4

THUNDER

Tries - Johnson (7), Payne (18), Neilson (22, 56), Welton (28), Parker (50), Blades (62), Stearman (76)

Goals - Benn Hardcastle 5/8

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Beaten by 20 at home by the weakest side (by far) in the old CC1. It could be a lopsided division.

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That's a litle too critical Sol for a team playing first time in a higher div.Give them time to settle and adapt.

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Its also true. To get beat by a team which consistantly inished bottom of the division, by 20 points indicates it could be a long season for the newcomers. Aterall, we reglarly see likes of Thunder knocked out of Challenge Cup by amature opposition, whichsays it al really.

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Blimey give them half a chance. The playing standards between any division in RL is usually quite a large gulf. I doubt they will take the world by storm but lets give them a little leeway to find their feet.

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That's a litle too critical Sol for a team playing first time in a higher div.Give them time to settle and adapt.

That's what I'm saying. They will need a lot of time to settle and adjust. The gulf in standards is clear.

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We should definitely judge the season prospects of all teams by the result of one friendly.

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Interesting that all that is made of that result is that Hemel are going to have a tough season, no mention that Thunder could have improved perhaps? Any thoughts on that?? They've played 3 games now, were competitive against a Hull KR side, beat the Royal Navy convincingly down in Portsmouth then beat Hemel away too. Not a bad preseason so far!

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Its also true. To get beat by a team which consistantly inished bottom of the division, by 20 points indicates it could be a long season for the newcomers. Aterall, we reglarly see likes of Thunder knocked out of Challenge Cup by amature opposition, whichsays it al really.

Which amateur opposition have Thunder been beaten by?

Interesting that all that is made of that result is that Hemel are going to have a tough season, no mention that Thunder could have improved perhaps? Any thoughts on that?? They've played 3 games now, were competitive against a Hull KR side, beat the Royal Navy convincingly down in Portsmouth then beat Hemel away too. Not a bad preseason so far!

We were also beaten 18-0 by Whitehaven, with two of the tries being scored at the end of each half.

Finally, I think some are being a bit unfair to both teams - Hemel looked good and if you listen to Troy perkins comments, he seems spot on. Regarding Thunder, we're not the same side as the past three years. 14 new players shows that.

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we have improved alot from last 3seasons this squad will win alot of games, people underestimating us is good let them get on with it after 3 seasons beaing bottam i understand that though this season is a totally different thunder team and a very exciting season lies ahead, roll on march 3rd away at rochdale..cant wait! CMON THUNDER! CMON THUNDER!!

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We should definitely judge the season prospects of all teams by the result of one friendly.

I said "could be" rather than "will be" for a reason.

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we have improved alot from last 3seasons this squad will win alot of games, people underestimating us is good let them get on with it after 3 seasons beaing bottam i understand that though this season is a totally different thunder team and a very exciting season lies ahead, roll on march 3rd away at rochdale..cant wait! CMON THUNDER! CMON THUNDER!!

I hope you are right.

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we have improved alot from last 3seasons this squad will win alot of games, people underestimating us is good let them get on with it after 3 seasons beaing bottam i understand that though this season is a totally different thunder team and a very exciting season lies ahead, roll on march 3rd away at rochdale..cant wait! CMON THUNDER! CMON THUNDER!!

Don't forget about SL players from Hull KR either. they will be strongrt this season. Stands to reason.

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Aterall, we reglarly see likes of Thunder knocked out of Challenge Cup by amature opposition, whichsays it al really.

Four teams beaten by amateurs since 2005. Workington, Dewsbury, Doncaster and London Skolars. What cup have you been watching?

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Best I get onto Hemel and demand my season ticket money and membership back as they are

going to be so uncompetitive

.........

Lets at least wait till the season starts ............................EH.

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The experiment has failed. It'll never catch on down there. Fev got a better crowd.

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Popped into Hemel club when I was darn sarf the other week. Nice to know there was a rugby league club on hand where I could pop in to watch the match on Sky. Good progress was being made with upgrading the ground too.

Good luck to both clubs for the season ahead. Championship 1 should be very interesting this season.

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I was pleased with the result from a Hemel perspective. Half expected a thrashing.

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Four teams beaten by amateurs since 2005. Workington, Dewsbury, Doncaster and London Skolars. What cup have you been watching?

To be fair, Oracle did say 'amature' opposition. I assume they've been knocked out by teams lacking in maturity. ;)

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Best I get onto Hemel and demand my season ticket money and membership back as they are

going to be so uncompetitive

.........

Lets at least wait till the season starts ............................EH.

I didn't say that they would be uncompetitive because they aren't the only new side joining. I just expect there to be a big contrast between old sides and new sides. It will take a few seasons to bridge the gap.

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If Hemel and the All Golds get off to bad starts I can just picture the general moaning and nashing of teeth amongst the heartland brigade - what a waste of time,it'll never catch on etc etc. This sport is so parochial is does........my..........head..............in

I was there for the friendly against Gateshead,enjoyed it and am really looking forward to the season. If Hemel finish 8th or 9th then so be it, onwards and upwards. They've got far more going for them long term than many championship heartland clubs, success will happen but nobody at the club is under any illusions that it'll be instant. The Stags are off to Oxford next weekend, that'll be interesting to see how they get on against last years Oldham team ;-)

Was impressed by Thunder's travelling army of 5 or so. Very vocal, great great fans who did their club credit.

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Its also true. To get beat by a team which consistantly inished bottom of the division, by 20 points indicates it could be a long season for the newcomers. Aterall, we reglarly see likes of Thunder knocked out of Challenge Cup by amature opposition, whichsays it al really.

How regularly does this happen?

What is this year's Thunder side like compared to last year's?

The fact that there are 3 new sides at least means that they should have a number of competitive fixtures. In fact, I consider this to be a competitive fixture - 20 points is nothing in RL.

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Championship One is going to be fascinating. NWC have recruited well, Oldham and Rochdale will surely be up there and the Skolars are very confident. Add in a revitalised Gateshead and the free-spending 'wildcard' Oxford, that is a good mix for the play-offs, South Wales could also make the play-offs. Hemel will be fine, they are building from the roots up and will get stronger, with some dual reg players. UGAG will have plenty of players (they run 6 teams) and will be a path-way for players from the South west.

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Championship One is going to be fascinating. NWC have recruited well, Oldham and Rochdale will surely be up there and the Skolars are very confident. Add in a revitalised Gateshead and the free-spending 'wildcard' Oxford, that is a good mix for the play-offs, South Wales could also make the play-offs. Hemel will be fine, they are building from the roots up and will get stronger, with some dual reg players. UGAG will have plenty of players (they run 6 teams) and will be a path-way for players from the South west.

I have to admit I'm more interested in this division than I have been for a long time. I think it helps that there are four teams - Oxford, All Golds, South Wales and Hemel within relatively easy reach of Bristol (Hemel is a bit of a trek but less of a trip than heading up North to watch games). It should also be pretty competitive, with a few tight contests. I'm looking forward to heading to see the All Golds in the NRC in a week or two.

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