Stags too strong for derby rivals

Robbie Hunter-Paul on attack for Mirfield Stags in their Yorkshire Men's League derby against Birstall.  Picture: David Wood
Robbie Hunter-Paul on attack for Mirfield Stags in their Yorkshire Men's League derby against Birstall. Picture: David Wood

Mirfield Stags moved to within one victory of sealing top spot in Yorkshire Men’s League Division One with a 58-10 mauling of local rivals Birstall Victoria at Castle Hall.

Richard Silverwood’s men sent an emphatic message to their fellow promotion hopefuls, with arguably their best performance of the season.

The league-leading Stags ran in 11 tries as they moved seven points clear of second-placed York Acorn A at the summit.

Mirfield built an impressive interval advantage and sealed their success early in the second period.

Unusually, the Stags made a fast start and recorded two tries in the opening seven minutes.

First, the visitors failed to deal with a Robbie Hunter-Paul bomb, allowing Luke Manning to grab the loose ball and dive over between the posts.

Then Ross Hayden snuck down a blind alley to score his 21st try of the season.

Two more quick-fire tries extended the hosts’ lead to 20 points midway through the first half.

In the 16th minute, a superb James Wilson offload gave Oliver Rounding the space to beat a couple of would-be tacklers and run in untouched.

Three minutes later, quick hands from Hunter-Paul and Reece Spurr set up Conner Sockett to stroll over in the corner.

Nathan Hadfield then finished an excellent team move to increase the lead to 26-0.

Tries either side of the break from Jake Shaw put the result beyond any doubt.

Shaw held off a crowd of Birstall defenders to score in the corner and extend the interval lead to 30 points.

Within two minutes of the restart, Shaw drove straight through the heart of the opposition defensive line and touched down between the posts.

The visitors got off the mark in the 47th minute when centre Ash Tomlinson went over.

It took little time for the Stags to reassert their authority though. Ben Mather crashed over for two more typically barnstorming scores.

On the hour mark, Hunter-Paul got in on the action, finishing off a brilliant Sockett break to make it 54-4.

With a quarter of an hour to play, front-rower Matt Smith scored a consolation try for Birstall.

But it would be the Stags that finished the scoring with three minutes remaining.

A moment of individual brilliance from Hayden set Sockett out wide for his second of the afternoon.