MIRFIELD Stags showed tremendous character in coming from behind to seal a last-gasp 27-24 victory against Birstall Victoria.
Trailing by four points with as many minutes to play, it took a solo effort from James Wilson to level matters before Ross Hayden kicked the extras to send the Stags home with the points.
Mirfield’s third consecutive victory did not come easily, as Birstall threw everything at their Heavy Woollen rivals.
The Stags took an early lead following a fumble from the Birstall winger close to his own line and forward Luke Manning pounced on the loose ball, setting up Michael Piper to score.
After the early error gifted the Stags the lead, Birstall stepped up with some very aggressive defence from props Richard Duffy and Matthew Smith, Gavin Davis and Chris Mortimer and centre Jonny Parrish.
Ten minutes later, after long periods of possession close to the Stags’ line, Birstall eventually burrowed their way over in the corner to draw level. Braden Hunter showing great strength from close range, he also converted to go into half-time level at 6-6.
Two quick-fire tries in the space of 10 minutes after the interval saw the Stags build an 18-6 lead. Full-back Hayden broke the stubborn Birstall backline, stabbing a kick through before scoring.
Centre Elliot Smith then made a rampaging break down the left touchline, before eventually being held up over the line.
From the 10-metre restart, the Stags sent the ball back to the right and a clever short ball from stand-off Jake Shaw sent Wayne Jowett over to extend Mirfield’s advantage.
Birstall hit back with tries from centre Ryan Ginnelly and an excellent full-length try from full-back Sam Thornton to again draw level with only 15 minutes to play.
Mirfield were awarded a penalty under the Birstall posts and Hayden converted to give the Stags a narrow lead.
But Birstall hit back again with some classy link play from hooker Brendan Sheridan and Hunter, which allowed substitute Trevor West to scored in the corner.
The home side thought the game was won, being 24-20 in front with only two minutes remaining, but from the restart Birstall allowed the ball to bounce in to touch and from the resulting scrum Mirfield powered over the line and converted the try taking the score to 26-24.
Stags centre James Wilson waded his way through several would-be defenders to score what proved to be the winning score.
Hayden added the difficult extras to move Mirfield clear, leading 26-24, before Piper sealed Vic’s fate with a last-minute drop-goal.
The win sets the Stags in good stead for tomorrow’s clash with promotion-chasing rivals York Acorn (Sat), meanwhile Birstall will be looking to get back to winning ways at home against Sheffield Hillsborough Hawks (2.30pm).