Gallant effort ends in defeat for injury-hit Huntingdon

Huntingdon Stags v Derby RFC,

Huntingdon Stags v Derby RFC, - Credit: Archant

Huntingdon and District 14 Derby 34

Huntingdon Stags v Derby RFC,

Huntingdon Stags v Derby RFC, - Credit: Archant

An injury-hit Stags side slipped to a third successive defeat on Saturday.

The hosts fought gamely despite missing a number of key personnel but were ultimately outplayed by the visitors, who cruised to a comfortable win.

Stags remain in fifth place in Midlands 1 East.

Huntingdon Stags v Derby RFC,

Huntingdon Stags v Derby RFC, - Credit: Archant

Already carrying several injuries among the squad, Stags suffered a fresh setback when Wayne Bradley was injured in the warm up and lasted barely five minutes of the match.

The only forward substitute, Dan Rushton, was therefore pressed into service sooner than expected and, with Doug Bentley already out, Stags had no specialist line out jumper.

It proved difficult for the hosts to adjust to a make-shift line-up and they ceded the majority of the possession to the visitors.

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However, despite being under intense pressure for most of the half, Stags defended resolutely and conceded just a single try during the opening 40 minutes, ending the half 10-0 down.

At the start of the second half, Tom Morgan raised hopes of an unlikely fight back and he ran over a try, which was duly converted to reduce the arrears to 10-7.

But a loss of focus cost the home side dearly and two quick tries for Derby quickly swung the momentum back in their favour.

Dylan Leney added a second try for the hosts in a rare foray forward in the second half, before Derby took the match away from them, running over two further tries to wrap up a bonus-point victory.

Huntingdon have a weekend off before they return to action on February 13 against Wellingborough, with a number of players expected to return to the fold.

A poor first-half showing from St Ives left them with a mountain to climb as they lost out to Rugby St Andrews.

Playing into a strong wind, Ives started the match on the front foot, with Duncan Williams capping a superb surge upfield by crashing over for a try. Max Dominy added the conversion.

Andrews hit back with two quick tries to take the lead but the hosts pulled level once more midway through the half courtesy of Ollie Bartlett, who capitalised on a turnover to romp home.

Another Dominy conversion, and a penalty to boot, put the Bulls in a strong position approaching half-time.

But, in a punishing spell before the break, the visitors ran over three unanswered tries, taking advantage of turnover ball wrestled from St Ives, who, because of the elements, were forced to run from deep.

With the score at 34-17, St Ives had it all to do in the second half and they made the best possible start when Williams ran over a second try, ably converted by Dominy.

Not long after, a speculative kick upfield was gathered by Jim Robinson, who made good ground before the ball was recycled and found Bartlett, who scored his second.

The Bulls began to enjoy themselves and with a shimmy, Ashbridge broke through to score under the posts after a series of phases had left the visitors reeling.

A conversion put St Ives ahead for the first time since the opening exchanges, with just a quarter of the match remaining.

The two sides exchanged penalties before, with the match heading into the final few minutes, Andrews ramped up the pressure and pinned the hosts in their own half.

The pressure finally told when a clearing kick was gathered and the visitors pounced to score in the corner, and take the match 42-39.

Elsewhere, it was a disappointing afternoon for St Neots as they were hammered 51-19 by Midlands 3 East (South) leaders Oundle.

The team return to action on February 13 as they travel to Rugby St Andrew.