RUGBY UNION: Stags sign off from another season of progress with a thrilling comeback success

Tad Chapman kicked a late penalty to ensure Huntingdon ended the season on a winning note.

Tad Chapman kicked a late penalty to ensure Huntingdon ended the season on a winning note. - Credit: Archant

Huntingdon brought the curtain down on their best season to date with a fine comeback to complete a high-scoring success.

Damien Whales’ men clinched fifth spot in Midlands Division One East when pipping Old Northamptonians 43-40 in a Racecourse points-fest last Saturday, as the two sides served up a dozen tries between them.

Victory for Stags certainly didn’t look a likely scenario for much of an afternoon in which they trailed by a dozen points after just 10 minutes, were 14 points in arrears at the break and still 40-26 behind with 15 minutes of the second half completed.

Two early tries gave the visitors a stranglehold, but Stags wiped out their arrears as Tad Chapman and Sam Durnan went over. Barney West then restored parity again following another ONs score, but the away side then struck twice more in quick succession to open up a useful cushion at the break.

Reggie Reid briefly cut it when rounding off a Stags move, but a sixth try from ONs soon followed to take them to the 40-point mark.

And that’s where they stayed as Stags took command. Converted scores from Glen McIntyre and Richard North brought the hosts level before Chapman displayed perfect judgement and execution to kick a match-winning penalty with seven minutes to go.

It was a first success against ONs since the 2002/03 season and provided a 16th victory in 26 games this season - two sources of cheer for coach Whales.

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He said: “I’m delighted to finish with a win and secure our best-ever finish. It is another step forward in our development.

“Not only have we managed to be successful in terms of league position, we’ve done it while bringing through a large number of young players from our junior system.”

Stags stage their President’s Day this Saturday with the club’s Under 6 side training on the main Racecourse pitch ahead of a senior game at 3pm involving a Stags XV against Scotty’s Tigers – a rugby side associated with the Scotty’s Little Soldiers charity.