For once a Huntingdon late show makes happy viewing for head coach Damien Whales as his men snatch victory at Matlock
- Credit: Archant
Head coach Damien Whales believes a top-five finish in Midlands Division One East would rank as an ‘incredible achievement’ for injury ravaged Huntingdon.
Stags climbed back into fifth spot in the standings courtesy of a dramatic 22-20 triumph at bottom side Matlock last Saturday when Tom Morgan arced his way over for a last-gasp try.
In the process they bettered their points tally for the whole of last season - they managed 61 in that entire campaign and now have collected 63 in the current term - with three games to spare.
The next challenge is to win two of their remaining three fixtures to better their return of 13 victories last term – and given their opponents (with two of the bottom five still to face) that looks a distinct possibility.
Whales said: “We needed a performance and a result after failing to even score in our previous game.
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“Matlock is a long way to go and it was a great feeling to travel back with the points.
“We have slipped up so many times in the final minutes of matches this season and it was satisfying to snatch a result of our own late on.
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“We were the better team and it felt like justice was done.
“The fact we have bettered last season’s points tally is a sign of progress.
“The best we can realistically achieve now is fifth position and that would be an incredible achievement given our injury toll and losing key men.”
Liam Findley and Will Gould featured at first-team level for the first time when named among the Stags substitutes at Matlock along with Steven Chantler, who was returning from a knee injury which had ruled him out of most of the season.
Chantler had a quicker-than-expected introduction when Matthew Davies-Binge was forced off early on, and he helped Stags ease into a nine-point lead at the interval.
A Billy Bates burst led to a James Thorp try before Richard North went over with Simon Rose adding the extras.
But they soon found themselves trailing as their struggling hosts powered in for two tries early in the second half.
Barney West capped his best Stags display to date with a try that restored their advantage only for a score from Matlock put them back into the driving seat with five minutes to go.
But, just as it looked like Stags would be left to chew over another game that got away, Morgan sped in to earn victory.
A trip to next-to-bottom Newark is next for Stags on April 2.