Two Huntingdon stars bowed out on a victorious high yesterday.
Dan Malem was responsible for almost half of Stags’ haul in a 29-22 triumph against Kettering in Midlands Division One as he departed for the Southern Hemisphere in triumphant style.
His 14-point farewell tally at the Racecourse carried him onto 255 for the season and his team-mates will miss his substantial contributions, not only with the boot, as he heads to New Zealand for a season playing in Otago.
And they’ll be sad to see Mauro de Almeida go as well. The Argentinian powerhouse is considerably less likely to return as he moves back to his homeland after a stellar year in Stags colours full of ferocious tackling.
Malem, as so often, was the prominent Stags performer as the first half yesterday turned into a bout of penalty ping-pong.
He did the honours four times with the boot while the visitors kicked three of their own to leave the contest delicately poised at the break.
Neither side could manage a try though with Stags disappointed to fail to make a 10-minute numerical advantage count following a yellow card for a Kettering man.
But Huntingdon made up for that disappointment with a hat-trick of touch-downs in the second period.
They eventually made a breakthrough in that regard early in the second half as Jack Skidmore, Rory Parker and James Thorp produced some slick combination play to allow Richard North to scamper in under the posts.
Malem converted that score and quickly crafted the next as his chip on his own 22 started a move which finished with Craig Turner shrugging off two defenders to burst in at the corner.
Malem couldn’t add the extras on that occasion and Stags’ progress was briefly held up by another Kettering penalty, but it proved to be only a brief interruption to their flow as Tad Chapman capitalised to on confusion in the visiting defence to grab his first try of a season in which he was sidelined for almost five months by a broken leg.
Kettering did rally with a converted try and penalty to slash Stags’ advantage, but there was no repeat of the last-gasp drama in the reverse fixture when Huntingdon had to settle for a draw.
Huntingdon stay sixth in the standings, but they go into the final five matches of the season with a realistic chance of grabbing the fourth spot currently occupied by Kettering.
They’re back on home turf this Saturday when hosting Market Rasen & Louth.