Stags secure top spot in Division One

Francis Maloney guided Mirfield Stags to a victory which clinched top spot in Yorkshire Men's League Division One.
Francis Maloney guided Mirfield Stags to a victory which clinched top spot in Yorkshire Men's League Division One.

Mirfield Stags defeated in-form Hull Wyke in some style, running out 30-22 victors to secure top spot in Yorkshire Men’s League Division One.

Richard Silverwood’s men were made to work for their success, a season’s best sixth in a row, but the league debutants found a way to win.

The league’s two in-form teams felt each other out in sweltering conditions early on but the game burst into life after 20 minutes.

After Conner Sockett’s darting run was stopped close to the line, Andrew Parkin’s long pass found Ross Hayden, who touched down in the corner to give the Stags the lead.

It took the hosts just five minutes to respond though, with the impressive Alec Hardie finishing off a neat passing move between the posts. The full-back converted his own try to give his side a 6-4 lead.

Three minutes later, the Stags were back in front. This time Hayden turned provider, setting up Sockett to stroll over and give his side a 10-6 half-time advantage.

The visitors made a fast start to the second period and increased their lead when former Super League star Francis Maloney rolled back the years to race through the Wyke line and score.

Third-placed Wyke, looking to extend an eight-match unbeaten run, refused to lie down and hit back with two quick-fire tries to retake the lead.

First, front-rower Colin Clayton crashed over from close range, before Hardie profited from a fortunate bounce to go over for his second try of the afternoon.

Trailing 16-14 with 25 minutes left on the clock, the Stags needed inspiration if they were to seal top spot with two games to spare.

Step forward Maloney as the 42-year-old put his teammates on his ailing back and dragged them over the line.

First, a perfectly weighted cross-kick dropped straight into the hands of debutant winger Joel Shaw.

Then, seven minutes later, the former England international took the ball to the line and set up Reece Spurr, who wrestled his way over to increase the lead to 10 points.

With ten minutes left on the clock, Hayden put the game beyond the hosts, darting over from dummy-half for his 24th try of the season.

Wyke hooker Steve Bass scored a late consolation try for the fellow promotion hopefuls but it was too little, too late and the Stags ran out deserved winners and topping the table will boost the Stags confidence going into the end of season play-offs.