UNDERBANK Rangers coach Richard Knight admits that his team were far from good enough as the Huddersfield side fell away to Hemel Stags 26-20 in the first tie of the National Conference League, Division Three.
Rangers’ high penalty count and rare “lack of togetherness” proved fatal as they failed to crash the Stags’ Championship One promotion party on Saturday.
Frustrated Knight was disgruntled at his team’s efforts and said: “We didn’t play well from start to finish. To say that was the worst Hemel team we’ve played against just shows how bad we were.
“As a team, we didn’t attack together, we didn’t defend together, and we didn’t walk on the pitch together or walk off the pitch together.
“We had three or four new guys so that didn’t help but we had enough experience on the field to see it through, yet we only played to the game plan for all of ten minutes, and the high penalty count was unacceptable.
“I will look to make changes ahead of St Albans next week and we will have to make improvements both physically and mentally in order to ensure that we get the three points.”
The fixture saw the reigning champions trail 16-0 after half an hour as tries from Eddie M’Baraga and Sean Johnson gave the Stags an early foothold on the game.
Yet Bank had seemingly completed the ultimate comeback as two tries from Jay Senior and a third from Courtney Allette
saw the visitors surge into the lead before Hemel’s Barry Swindells went over and a 16 point haul from Ryan Butcher’s boot ensured the stags took the spoils.
The Hertfordshire side enjoyed an explosive start and it wasn’t long before their attacking qualities were rewarded as M’Baraga powered through Bank’s defensive line and finished clinically in the corner. Butcher added the goal.
Bank were punished further as a lack of concentration provided the home side with their second penalty, and tenth point, in the opening quarter.
Hemel looked to kill the game before the break when Carl Warburton’s clever dummy saw him slip between two Bank players, before releasing Johnson who went over.
Ranger’s delayed response finally arrived and Senior finished two neat moves either side of the interval to swing momentum in their favour.
soon found himself in the sin bin for dissent yet the determined 12 men in-play pushed on and a slick passing combination was rounded off as winger Allettefinished in the corner. Neil Barrett
made it 3 out of 3 with the boot to put the visitors in the lead.
But the Stags were not to be denied, and the man advantage proved the difference as Swindells capped off some relentless Hemel pressure with a try – Butcher added the extras.
A further two successful penalties from scrum half Butcher ensured the home side took all three points and sent Underbank back to Holmfirth empty handed.