RUGBY UNION: Stags warm up for ‘enormous challenge’ with a second successive win
- Credit: Archant
Head coach Damien Whales insists his Huntingdon men face an ‘enormous challenge’ this Saturday.
A Stags side buoyed by back-to-back wins travel to unbeaten table-toppers Newbold on Avon in Midlands Division One East.
But Whales also reckons the pressure will be on a home team who have won 10 of their 11 league games to date - drawing the other one.
He said: “Newbold are clearly the team to beat. They are a strong and powerful outfit by all accounts and will try to put those things to good use at home.
“It will be an enormous challenge for our guys, but we go there with everything to gain and nothing to lose. We need to play smart rugby on the road and try to make it into the sort of game we want.
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“We had fallen into a little slump a few weeks ago, but we’ve come back from a weekend off with successive wins that were satisfying for different reasons.”
Whales the first to admit his men didn’t perform well when triumphing 30-22 at Market Rasen & Louth 11 days ago.
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But he was considerably happier with what he saw during a hard-fought 18-12 success against Melton Mowbray at The Racecourse last Saturday.
Stags fell behind just after the mid-point of the opening period when a visiting winger was allowed to scamper in unopposed to register the first try, but the trusty boot of Dan Malem soon guided over a penalty to slash the arrears.
The deficit grew again as the visitors swooped for a converted try on the stroke of half-time to open up a nine-point cushion, but it was a different story in the second period as Malem threw an outrageous dummy to provide Stags’ first try - which he also converted - before Glen McIntyre charged over following a line-out.
Those exploits eased Huntingdon into a three-point advantage which they extended when Malem punished Melton Mowbray’s growing frustrations with another penalty.
The visitors regrouped and finished in the ascendancy, but Stags held firm to climb up to fourth place in the standings.
Whales added: “Winning when playing poorly is a very useful skill and we did that in many ways at Market Rasen & Louth.
“But we stepped it up by producing a really gritty and honest performance to get the better of Melton Mowbray.
“We really had to hang on to see the game through and doing that is a sign of the progress we are making. We would probably have ended up losing that game last season.
“I certainly can’t grumble at nine points from our last two games.”