RUGBY UNION: Huntingdon are halfway to hitting their January target after more late drama

Tad Chapman went over for one of Huntingdon's tries in their win at Dronfield.

Tad Chapman went over for one of Huntingdon's tries in their win at Dronfield. - Credit: Archant

Huntingdon are on course to complete head coach Damien Whales’ challenge of a triumphant January.

The boot of Dan Malem provided the only Huntingdon points in their loss at Kettering.

The boot of Dan Malem provided the only Huntingdon points in their loss at Kettering. - Credit: Archant

The Stags clinched a second successive Midlands Division One East victory in 2017 when prevailing by a single point at struggling Dronfield last Saturday.

The boot of Dan Malem ensured they snatched a 23-22 victory in their first-ever visit to the Derbyshire venue as he guided over a late penalty. A 14-11 win at home to Bugbrooke had been gained in the same way the previous weekend.

Whales admitted: “Neither performance has been particularly good, but it is pleasing to win when not at our best.

“We won’t receive any prizes for the prettiness of our rugby, but we’ve been in the right place to grind out our victories.

“The target is to win all four games in January and we’re halfway to doing that, but the focus is now on trying to do it a bit more comfortably. There is no doubt we are playing within ourselves and hopefully we can step up the standard of our performance.”

It was a kicking contest early on at Dronfield with a pair of Malem penalties sandwiching a successful effort from the hosts, but Stags fell behind when conceding a try while down to 14 men after Wayne Bradley had been yellow-carded for a high tackle.

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They responded well as Sam Durnan powered over from 10 yards before Malem guided over the conversion to hand his side a three-point advantage at the break.

A Huntingdon player also provided the next try – although it did little to help their cause. JJ Ward, a Stags winger currently playing for Dronfield on a student transfer while at university in nearby Sheffield, darted over in the corner.

A ding-dong tussle continued as Tad Chapman pounced in the right place at the right time to quickly put Stags back in the ascendancy, aided by Malem’s conversion.

But they found themselves behind again when Dronfield punished a missed tackle to go over for a soft try as complaints about an obstruction fell on deaf ears.

However, that did serve to fire up the Huntingdon men for a final push and a two-point deficit became a one-point advantage when Malem calmly slotted over a late penalty.

Huntingdon stay sixth in the standings, but are now within two points of fourth-placed Lutterworth.

Whales’ men entertain Wellingborough at The Racecourse this Saturday, 2.15pm, and then finish the month with a visit to rock-bottom Ilkeston.

The club’s veteran’s side - the Staggerers - are also in action at The Racecourse this Saturday. They host their St Ives equivalents at 2pm.

Prolific Huntingdon Under 14s stormed into the quarter-finals of the East Midlands Cup after a 12-try feast on their travels.

The Stags youngsters roared to a 66-0 triumph at Luton last Sunday as Dan Mhalanga and Harvey Pinkey both racked up hat-tricks.

Archie Wilson and Jason Graham went over for two tries apiece, while Austin Brennan and Jack Connell also touched down. William Ramply kicked two conversions and Ben Rowbottom guided over another.