UNDERBANK Rangers coach Richard Knight admitted his team were far from good enough as the Huddersfield side fell away to Hemel Stags 26-20 in the opening round of the National Conference League Division III campaign.
Reigning champions Rangers’ high penalty count and rare ‘lack of togetherness’ proved fatal.
Frustrated coach Knight was disappointed with 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 10 minutes, and the high penalty count was totally unacceptable.”
Knight suggested he would be looking at his resources for the next outing and added: “I will look to make changes ahead of the St Albans game.
“We will have to make improvements both physically and mentally in order to ensure that we get the three points.”
The champions trailed 16-0 after half an hour at Hemel’s Pennine Way ground as tries from Eddie M’Baraga and Sean Johnson gave the Stags an early foothold on the game.
Yet Underbank had seemingly completed a 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 home side enjoyed an explosive start and it wasn’t long before their attacking qualities were rewarded as M’Baraga powered through and finished clinically in the corner – Butcher adding the goal.
Rangers were punished again as a lack of concentration provided the home side with their second penalty.
Hemel looked to kill the game before the break when Carl Warburton’s clever dummy saw him slip between two Rangers players, before releasing Johnson who went over.
Ranger’s response finally arrived and Senior finished two neat moves either side of the interval to swing momentum in their favour.
Michael Lang soon found himself in the sin-bin for dissent yet the determined 12 men pushed on and a slick passing combination was rounded off as winger Allette finished in the corner – Neil Barrett made it three out of three 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 penalties from scrum half Butcher ensured the home side took all three points.
Underbank: Midgley, Allette, Lang, Briggs, Alexis-Bailey, Barrett, Dyson, Williams, Barrowclough, Joyce, St Hilaire, Pawson, Harrop, Kaye, Coyne, Covell-Wood, Senior.
Hemel: B Swindells, Woods, Champion, Moore-Rapana, Fyson, Warburton, Butcher, Clark, Wong, Pritchard, M’Baraga, Ward, Boyd-Barnes, Chester, Johnson, Watling, G Swindells.