HUNTINGDON were defeated, but far from disgraced, by table-topping Bedford Athletic in a fine advert for Midlands Division One East rugby.

Stags slipped to a 21-16 reverse at The Racecourse last Saturday, but collected a bonus point for their troubles and earned many admirers with their performance.

An inexperienced Huntingdon side, who could only name two backs over the age of 22 due to injury and unavailability, produced a fine collective effort to give the leaders one of their biggest scares of the season.

Stags were the dominant team in the first half when the classy kicking of Dan Malem repeatedly forced the visitors back deep into their own territory.

Malem also guided over three penalties, but they had to settle for a six-point cushion at the break as Bedford hit back with a penalty of their own late in the half.

The visitors then bagged the opening try early in the second period to slash their arrears to a single point before a penalty edged them ahead for the first time.

Stags responded well as Robbie Polson took a quick tap and barged over for a try after a Malem penalty had hit a post and sparked confusion in the Athletic defence.

But they couldn't hold onto their advantage as a converted try, a penalty and some desperate late defence earned Bedford victory.

Stags remain fifth in the table ahead of a visit to Bugbrooke this Saturday.

There was success for both local teams in their battles for survival at Midlands Division Three East (South) level.

Third-bottom St Neots were 24-15 victors over Northampton Casuals as Cameron Howson, Daniel Miller and Lewis Hall crossed for tries. Hall also converted all three scores and added a penalty to his personal haul of 14 points.

St Ives didn't even have to break sweat to triumph in a bottom-of-the-table battle.

They received a walkover as basement side Old Newtonians were unable to raise a team for the Somersham Road clash.