RUGBY: Huntingdon head coach Damien Whales feeling positive despite three successive defeats in a season of development
- Credit: Archant
Head coach Damien Whales insists Huntingdon have plenty to be positive about – despite a difficult start to the Midlands Division One East season.
Stags slipped to a third successive defeat when being beaten 31-27 at previously winless Bugbrooke last Saturday.
Tad Chapman saw his 100 per-cent record with the boot end when missing an early penalty, but he did soon put Stags ahead with a successful kick.
Another penalty from him reduced their arrears to a single point at the break after Bugbrooke had bagged the opening try, and the hosts touched down on three further occasions early in the second half.
Two of those tries were scored after Stags man Barnie West was controversially yellow-carded after being adjudged to have taken out on an opponent in the air.
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Stags hit back as Roger Shakespeare dashed in under the posts after taking a quick tap penalty and Chapman sent over the conversion, but Bugbrooke replied with another try of their own to seal victory with five minutes to go.
But there was still time for Stags to claim two more converted tries to snatch a losing bonus point as Kristian Jones and West touched down.
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Whales said: “Three straight defeats are disappointing although that run does include two games against sides relegated to this level.
“This is going to be a season of development for us. Last Saturday at Bugbrooke, the average of our team would only have been 21 or 22.
“We have a number of young lads starting their senior careers and also a number of injuries to key personnel.
“Availability has been a challenge during September and that has made it a difficult start, but we are excited about where we are heading – and how we are getting there.”
Teenage brothers Adam and Lewis Smith and Tom Brooks, who made his first XV debut last Saturday at 17 years of age, are some of the young prospects being handed a chance to shine by Whales.
Stags host Wellingborough at the Racecourse this Saturday as they bid to grab a first victory since scraping past promoted Peterborough on the opening day of the season.
St Ives continued their winning start in Midlands Division Three East (South) last Saturday – without even having to take to the field.
The Bulls received a walkover when opponents Leicester Forest were unable to raise a team for the Somersham Road clash due to sickness in their camp.
St Ives go to Northampton BBOB this Saturday while St Neots have their second outing of the season in Midlands Division Four East (South) when they host Stamford College Old Boys.