RUGBY: Vital success for Stags in basement battle gives survival hopes a boost

Barnie West scored a classy try as Huntingdon won at Market Rasen & Louth. Picture: J BIGGS PHOTOGRA

Barnie West scored a classy try as Huntingdon won at Market Rasen & Louth. Picture: J BIGGS PHOTOGRAPHY - Credit: Archant

Huntingdon gave their Midlands Division One East survival hopes a boost by triumphing in a basement battle last Saturday.

Stags emerged with a 25-20 success at rock-bottom Market Rasen & Louth to close to within three points of safety with six games remaining.

Head coach Damien Whales said: “It was very much a bottom-of-the-table clash with two sides struggling to put good periods of rugby together.

“When moments of quality were seen, points were scored at both ends. We were the better side overall so the result is a fair one as far as I’m concerned.

“Our key figures performed well – as they have done throughout a tough season - but we need other guys to step up to their level.

“It was a game we targeted for a win and we managed to get it. The same applies to our next game against Melton Mowbray.

“We need results to stay up. We’re in a difficult position and we’re not just going to sit back and accept it.

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“We have plans for the future taking shape and we want to put them into practice at Midlands Division One East level.”

Stags made the breakthrough late in the first half in Lincolnshire thanks to a converted try from Kiwi number eight Todd Arnold, who was described as ‘outstanding from start to finish’ by Whales.

Tad Chapman sent over the conversion and also added another penalty for a Stags side who lost captain Doug Bentley to a shoulder injury. Roger Shakespeare took over as skipper.

Ben Strangeways and Barnie West – the latter following a terrific surge from the halfway line – also touched down for Stags with Chapman guiding over one of the conversions, hitting the post with the other and then being successful with another penalty.

But Market Rasen & Louth, who have lost every game this season, managed two tries of their own to stay in contention and then claimed another quick double to set up an exciting finish after Stags saw Jack Skidmore yellow-carded for a second high tackle in a matter of minutes.

Only a fine covering tackle from Chris Turley prevented them from having further success and ensured Stags retained their advantage to record a fifth win of the season.

They return to action when hosting Melton Mowbray on March 3.