Stags defeat Birstall Vic in derby thriller

Birstall Victoria's Jonny Parrish.
Birstall Victoria's Jonny Parrish.

Mirfield Stags secured the derby bragging rights as they edged out Birstall Victoria 27-24 in a thrilling Yorkshire Men’s League Division One derby at White Lee.

After heavy recent defeats, the Vic needed a big performance to get them back on track, and with several players returning from injury, hopes were high.

An early error gifted Mirfield a sixth minute lead as Stags forward Luke Manning pounced on the loose ball and set up Michael Piper to bag a debut try, which was converted by Ross Hayden.

Birstall stepped up and controlled the rest of the half superbly with some aggressive defence from props Richard Duffy and Matthew Smith, second row men Gavin David and Chris Mortimer, and centre Jonny Parrish.

The Vic hit back after 15 minutes, when stand-off Braden Hunter showed great strength to barge over from close range and he converted his own try.

Mirfield came out strongly at the start of the second half and scored twice within the opening 10 minutes to put them 18-6 ahead.

Full-back Hayden produced a piece of skill to break the stubborn Birstall backline, stabbing a kick through the defence before regathering and spinning around his opposite number to touch down.

Centre Elliot Smith was held up over the line before stand-off Jake Shaw sent Wayne Jowett charging between the posts, with Hayden landing both conversions.

Birstall hit back with tries from centre Ryan Ginnelly on 55 minutes and an excellent length of the field score from full-back Sam Thornton on 65 minutes to level matters with 15 minutes remaining.

Mirfield were awarded a penalty in front of the Birstall posts and Hayden goaled to edge them ahead

Two minutes from full-time, Birstall looked to have struck a decisive blow when good link up play from hooker Brenden Sheridan and stand-off Hunter allowed substitute prop Trevor West to score in the corner as the Vic led 24-20.

But Hayden’s kick off was allowed to bounce in to touch and from the resulting scrum Piper fed James Wilson, who evaded several tackles on a terrific solo run to the line.

Hayden held his nerve to land the difficult conversion and edge the Stags ahead.

Mirfield made sure of the win, with a last second drop goal from Piper.

Vic man-of-the-match Hunter was closely followed by prop Richard Duffy and centre Jonny Parrish.

Birstall Victoria entertain Sheffield Hillsborough Hawks on Saturday, kick off 2.30pm.