St Ives, St Neots and Huntingdon were all beaten as difficult starts to the new campaign continued. St Ives suffered a third consecutive Midlands Division Two East (South) loss when going down 39-22 at Long Buckby. The Bulls have never won at the Northamptonshire venue and were out of this contest by the break when trailing 29-3 with only a Paul Ashbridge penalty to show for their first-half efforts. But St Ives were much-improved after the break when taking the game to their hosts. Debutant Myles Costello went over for a try before another Ashbridge effort was ruled out for a double movement. The hosts then struck again but the Bulls responded well as Joseph Cox raced clear of two covering defenders to touch down before Costello claimed his second try. Ashbridge also added two conversions as St Ives' performance in the second period provided plenty of positives. St Neots chief Johnny Berwick was upbeat in defeat as his side's wait for a first win of the season continued. Saints were beaten 34-18 at Oakham in Midlands Division Three East (South) but again performed considerably better than the final scoreline might suggest. Saints fell behind to an early try but replied when quick hands from James Larman and Lewis Hall allowed club captain Nick Ashford to go over. Two successful penalties from Hall then eased the visitors into an 11-8 advantage, but Oakham regained the lead before the break and then took command with a quickfire three-try salvo in the second half. Saints responded well to impose themselves again and were rewarded with a late consolation and converted try as Aidan Jordan ran in from 50m to touch down under the posts after smart work from Cody Hocker and Jake Bailey. Player-coach Johnny Berwick said: "We turned up focused and that showed in our performance in the first half. "The slight drop in intensity in the second half ultimately cost us, but our response was exactly what I wanted to see. "We figured out a way to break Oakham down again and that is most pleasing." Huntingdon suffered a 32-12 defeat at the hands of table-toppers Stamford at The Racecourse in Midlands Division Three East (South). The visitors seized the initiative with a couple of tries to open up a 12-point advantage before Adam Peel replied for Stags with a score which was converted by player-coach Duncan Low. Another Stamford effort followed as they eased into a 17-7 advantage at the break but a fine individual try from Owain Collard raised hopes of a Stags fightback in the second period. But it didn't materialise as the leaders responded with two further tries and a penalty of their own to take the spoils. St Neots and Huntingdon both have Midlands Senior Vase fixtures this Saturday. Saints host Dunstablians and Stags go to Stockwood Park in third round ties. St Ives are without a game this Saturday.