RUGBY UNION: It’s a case of so near yet so far for Stags against unbeaten Midlands Division One East leaders

Dan Malem was responsible for a dozen of Stags' points in their loss at leaders Newbold on Avon.

Dan Malem was responsible for a dozen of Stags' points in their loss at leaders Newbold on Avon. - Credit: Archant

Huntingdon came within a whisker of succeeding last Saturday where all before them had failed.

A Stags side - missing five frontline forwards - were left to ponder what might have been after going down to the narrowest of defeats, 18-17, at unbeaten Midlands Division One East table-toppers Newbold on Avon.

Dan Malem kicked the visitors into an early advantage with a penalty, but Huntingdon conceded two tries during a difficult spell to trail 12-3.

The response was immediate as Malem waltzed through on the blind side to touch down for Stags’ opening try which he duly converted, but a penalty for the hosts left them five points to the good at the break.

Points were in shorter supply for both teams during a disjointed second period with Newbold only able to add another penalty to their tally before Stags hit back on the hour.

Veteran James Thorp went over following a line-out move and Malem’s conversion pulled his side to within a point of the pacesetters.

But that was as close as they could get as a series of chances to break through again were spurned.

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Head coach Damien Whales admitted: “I’m disappointed not to come away with the win.

“We finished the game absolutely pounding the Newbold line and it may have been very different had there been a couple more minutes on the clock.

“In the end, a few minutes of poor defence in the first half - when Newbold got their two tries - has ended up costing us.”

Stags dropped from fourth to seventh in the table as a result of this loss. They entertain one of the teams to hop above them - Northampton Old Scouts - at The Racecourse this Saturday.

St Ives and St Neots both return to action this weekend in Midlands Division Three East (South). St Ives host rock-bottom Aylestone St James while second-bottom St Neots entertain unbeaten leaders Stewart & Lloyds.