Hemel Stags 13 Whitehaven 50

Whitehaven secured a comfortable win against Hemel Stags with 34 unanswered second-half points at Pennine Way.

Player-coach Carl Forster crashed over for a hat-trick as his team ran in nine tries to rack up 50 points.

The final result, though, looked anything but routine early on as Haven got off to a sluggish start in the first half to lead 16-13 at the interval.

Having set off in the early hours, they only arrived at the stadium an hour before kick-off and took time to settle.

Haven struggled to hold on to the ball and allowed their lowly opponents to match them in an uncomfortable 40 minutes for the visitors.

The Stags, though, were no match for Haven or the rampaging Forster after the resumption.

Danny Green got the scoreboard ticking with a try after a cagey opening by the visitors on 13 minutes.

Daniel Abram missed his conversion attempt but landed the next effort shortly afterwards when Forster notched his first try of the afternoon with a short drive for a 10-point lead.

Hemel were proving a match for west Cumbrians and deservedly got back into the contest as Lewis Taylor proved too strong for the Haven defence from a few yards out.

Kieran Smith added the extras.

Haven looked shaken but bounced back when Kris Coward entered the fray to make an immediate impact with a powerful drive to the line.

Abram was on target with his kick for a 16-6 lead.

Haven really should have kicked on but, inexplicably, allowed Hemel back into the match for a second time just past the half hour as Sonny Esslemont crashed over.

Smith landed the conversion and then coolly slotted over a drop goal with the last kick of the half to reduce the deficit further.

Holding a slender lead, Haven kicked off the second half with renewed vigour, no doubt fired up by a few home truths from Forster in the away dressing room.

And the game was over inside seven minutes as they landed a knock-out try double.

Hemel had no answer as Jason Mossop crossed, getting on the end of a sweeping move after 43 minutes.

Abram kicked the goal, and taking advantage of two penalties for indiscipline, Haven crossed again when David Thompson punished a couple of missed tackles.

Abram slotted the goal for a 26-13 lead and, this time, there was no way back for the hosts as Forster took centre stage.

Crossing twice in the 53rd and 63rd minutes, Hemel had no answer to Forster barging his way over the whitewash.

Abram slotted both kicks.

The final quarter saw Haven press Hemel back on the defensive.

Joshua Eaves added his name to the list of try scorers, holding off three defenders to crash over with 12 minutes remaining.

With Abram off the field, Steven Roper kicked the goal.

Haven had a comfortable lead but were twice indebted to the lightning speed of Jordan Burns for try-saving tackles as Hemel broke clear from defence after loose passes.

All that was left was for Dion Aiye to have the final say, converting his own close-range score in the final set for a deserved triumph.

The result was not in doubt when Haven took control in the second half, but Forster was well aware his team had been poor in the first half.

Modestly, he ignored his own efforts which put his team on the road to victory, but throughout he was stand-out player, not just for his try-scoring heroics, but also non-stop tackling and link-up play as he led from the front.