RUGBY: Head coach Damien Whales calls for improvement as Huntingdon battle for Midlands Division One East survival

Stags man Steven Chantler attempts to avoid a tackle before being sent off in their defeat to Oundle

Stags man Steven Chantler attempts to avoid a tackle before being sent off in their defeat to Oundle. Picture: DUNCAN LAMONT - Credit: Archant

These are tough times for Huntingdon in their battle to dodge the Midlands Division One East drop.

Damien Whales’ men are teetering one point and two places above the drop-zone after suffering back-to-back heavy defeats without managing to score a point.

Stags were thumped 55-0 by Oundle at The Racecourse last Saturday only a week after being on the receiving end of a 57-0 drubbing at Old Northamptonians.

“This is as difficult a period as we have faced for some years,” admitted Whales. “The quality of the league is improving and we are not – it is that simple.

“The gap between the top and bottom half has increased significantly and we find ourselves in trouble at the wrong end. The league table doesn’t lie at this stage of the season.

“We’ve fielded weakened sides on occasions and haven’t always approached games with the correct mindset.

“Teams fighting to avoid relegation tend to make themselves very hard to beat. We need to do that very quickly.

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“We’ve worked very hard to get to a decent standard of rugby and we’ll ensure we are playing at Level 6 again next season.

“We need to get some important guys back from injury and we’re also aiming to attract players to strengthen our squad.”

Stags were soon in arrears against Oundle after conceding three tries in the opening 20 minutes. Any hopes of a fightback were all but ended when Steven Chantler was red-carded before the break for kicking out in retaliation.

Whales’ side continued to compete despite their numerical disadvantage, but they couldn’t prevent the visitors from running in six further tries in the second period as an eighth defeat in 12 games became inevitable.

Whales added: “We played very poorly at ON’s the previous Saturday, but we were better against Oundle. We were in the game until the red card.

“We kept the ball and had plenty of territory, but we couldn’t turn it into points ourselves and then conceded far too many. That’s something we have to address as a priority.”

Things are not about to get any easier for Stags, who travel to fifth-placed Paviors this Saturday before entertaining table-toppers Syston at The Racecourse on December 16.