Leaders are step too far for Stags
Ruislip 13 Stevenage Town 8 Stevenage suffered a cup weekend hangover on the road at league winners Ruislip. This defeat means Stags will now struggle to secure a promotion play-off clash with the final match at home to basement side Bank of England on Ap
Ruislip 13 Stevenage Town 8
Stevenage suffered a cup weekend hangover on the road at league winners Ruislip.
This defeat means Stags will now struggle to secure a promotion play-off clash with the final match at home to basement side Bank of England on April 14.
Having produced their best performance of the season so far to reach the county cup final again, they were unable to produce the same result in this vital league encounter.
Playing into a strong wind in the first half, Stags conceded a penalty in front of the posts.
Stevenage rallied and surged back down the pitch. Dominating possession, they put Ruislip under huge pressure.
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Eventually this told when Gareth Lewis put Michael Wilson in space to outsprint the defenders to score in the corner although the conversion was missed.
The lead was shortlived as poor communication in defence left Ruislip with an overlap, which they took advantage of to score out wide. Again the conversion was missed.
A feisty affair all afternoon flared up just before half-time when the Ruislip number six gouged Iain Penny in the eye.
The young referee did not see this, only the offending player grappling Penny on the floor, and amazingly decided to sin bin both players.
Bemused Town battled on for the remainder of the half but opportunities were spurned to draw level or even go ahead.
After the break, Stags attacked Ruislip at every opportunity but were frustrated by persistent infringements at the breakdown by the opposition.
With both teams back to 15 apiece, the referee missed a blatant crossing in midfield.
Penny made an innocuous wrap tackle on the ball carrier which the referee interpreted as a high tackle.
He then proceeded to show Penny a second yellow card which, like football, means red.
Town had to play the remaining half hour one player down and although enjoying periods of sustained pressure, they could not convert this into points.
With 15 minutes to go, they also lost their kicker Lewis to injury, not able to carry on due to a recurring back problem.
Ruislip played some good rugby into the wind and were rewarded with an unconverted try in the corner to ensure the points.
Town still showed their usual grit and determination and awarded a penalty in front of the posts, Gareth Roberts stepped up to reduce the deficit to five points.
Ruislip retained the ball and ran the clock out to be crowned league champions, having lost only one game all season.
Stevenage still maintain the slimmest of chances of promotion, as well as the county cup final against the mighty Hertford on Sunday, April 22.