RUGBY: Stepping stone as Stags survive a scare to beat bottom side in crucial clash

Try-scorer Barnie West on the run for Huntingdon in their success against Market Rasen & Louth. Pict

Try-scorer Barnie West on the run for Huntingdon in their success against Market Rasen & Louth. Picture: J BIGGS PHOTOGRAPHY - Credit: Archant

Head coach Damien Whales admitted his Huntingdon side took a ‘big step in the right direction’ courtesy of an important Saturday success.

Struggling Stags beat basement boys Market Rasen & Louth in what was billed as a must-win Midlands Division One East clash at The Racecourse.

A 21-14 outcome provided a first victory since the opening day of the campaign and one that Whales hopes can act as a springboard for a surge up the standings.

“This result had to happen and hopefully it can be a stepping stone in turning our season around,” said Whales.

“Market Rasen & Louth were a lot better than we expected given the results they’ve had so far this season.

“We should have scored a lot more points and finished the game as a contest in the first half in all honesty.

“We didn’t to do that and they came back at us in the second half, but we managed to pick up the win.

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“It wasn’t a great performance but it was encouraging to see us create so many opportunities. Obviously we will need to take more of them against better sides.”

Stags needed only six minutes to break the deadlock as Sam Hirons sent over a penalty and they were only denied the opening try by some last-ditch defensive work from the visitors following a surging maul from a line out.

A brilliant Ben Strangeways tackle then ensured Stags didn’t fall behind before two further Hirons penalties eased them into a nine-point cushion.

Half-time was looming large by the time the first try did eventually arrive. Barnie West was the man to provide as he finished off a smart Stags move that involved an Andy Mourits break and slick handling from Hirons.

But any thoughts of the second half being a cakewalk against rock-bottom opponents who have yet to win this season were soon dispelled.

Stags’ advantage of 16 points was reduced to just two by a pair of converted tries from the visitors – the first the result of a spell of concerted pressure, the second arriving courtesy of an intercepted pass – and it would have disappeared altogether had Market Rasen not seen a penalty drift just wide of the posts.

But they regained the upper hand in the final quarter of an hour. An attacking raid down the left flank resulted in a try for Mourits and secured a precious victory.

Stags face another struggling team this Saturday when travelling to Melton Mowbray ahead of a home date against second-bottom Northampton Old Scouts on November 11.