The preparations could hardly have been much worse . . . but the performance produced by Huntingdon as they roared to their biggest win of the Midlands Division One East season last Saturday could hardly have been much better.
They certainly didn’t look like a side forced into a major reshuffle due to illness in the camp, and who had been unable to train 48 hours before the fixture due to a floodlight failure, when piling up the points in a 50-18 away triumph at Ilkeston.
Dan Malem returned to the Stags fold, following a stint in New Zealand and the club’s 2nds, with a 20-point haul.
He went over for two of Huntingdon’s eight tries and converted five of them in total as they dazzled in Derbyshire.
Malem delivered the first score before Steve Chantler ploughed his way through the home defence.
Tango Morgan also joined the party as Stags opened up a 13-point lead by the break with the hosts only managing a couple of penalties.
Reggie Reid secured the bonus point with a fourth try early in the second half before Andy Mourits and Jack Skidmore got in on the act.
Malem added a second try after fine work from Bradley, who then picked up a yellow card. Glen McIntyre joined him on the sidelines to leave Stags down to 13 men and Ilkeston took advantage to grab their second try of the afternoon.
But Huntingdon had the final say when Craig Turner touched down to ensure they reached a half-century.
It leaves Huntingdon sixth in the standings having won four of their opening six fixtures.
They are without a match this Saturday, but the club’s new veteran’s side – the Staggerers – are in action at the Racecourse when hosting the golden oldies of Northampton BBOB.
Elsewhere, Huntingdon’s youngsters progressed to the third round of the National Colts Cup by beating Northampton Casuals 19-13 at the Racecourse last Saturday.
They fell behind to a penalty before taking command with tries from Will Greatorex (who followed in his own high kick to touch down) and Brendan Charapuka, who sped clear of the visiting defence.
Adam Garrood converted on both occasions to leave the locals 11 points to the good at the break, but the visitors cut their arrears with a try in the second period.
Huntingdon responded as Llew Thomas raced past a last-ditch tap tackle to touch down and even though the visitors replied with a second try of the own, it was Stags who advanced.