STAGS coach Damian Wales said he was ‘gutted’ after Huntingdon & District were beaten at home for the first time in a calendar year and lost their third match on the trot on Saturday

Still top of the Midlands Two East South table, Huntingdon went 13-0 up against second-placed Leighton Buzzard at the Racecourse, but the visitors were excellent in the second half and held on to their 20-16 lead despite an exciting last-minute driving maul which almost saw the Stags snatch the points.

"I am so gutted with the result but extremely proud of the whole team for their effort," said Wales. "It was a physical game and we met them head on. I don't think the 20 points they scored is a fair reflection of how good our defence really was."

Dan Malem kicked two early penalties and then broke away for a runaway try before kicking the conversion for the Stags' 13-0 first half lead.

But a 10-minute spell in the second half saw the lead change hands when the Buzzards scored three penalty goals and a converted try.

With five minutes remaining, Stags reduced the deficit to four points with another penalty goal from Malem, and that sparked a frantic end to the game with Huntingdon throwing everything they had at the Buzzards' defence, which only just held out.

With just 30 seconds left, Stags had a driving maul from a lineout 10 yards out. After several phases of pick-and-go, the attack was finally thwarted when the ball was bundled into touch.

It was the second losing bonus point in as many weeks and Huntingdon's lead at the top of the table has been cut to four points with Leighton and third-placed Bugbrooke both having played a game less.

Wales said: "I thought every player from one to 15 played very well today, putting their bodies on the line at all times, but the standout has to be prop Steven Chantler who caused absolute carnage with his tackling today."

This Saturday, Stags are away at Wellingborough and they will be hoping to put an end to a losing run which has seen also them knocked out of the Midlands Intermediate Vase and drop their first league points at Northampton Old Scouts.

Midlands Two East South: Biggleswade 10-17 Northampton Old Scouts, Bugbrooke 32-11 Wellingborough, Dunstablians 27-21 Northampton BBOB, Huntingdon & District 16-20 Leighton Buzzard, Lutterworth 24-13 Oadby Wyggestonians.