AFTER nearly 80 minutes of gripping rugby, Damien Whales stood over a conversion kick knowing that the kick would secure a fine win for Stags.

Market Harborough 23-22 Huntingdon Stags

AFTER nearly 80 minutes of gripping rugby, Damien Whales stood over a conversion kick knowing that the kick would secure a fine win for Stags.

But his kick, from near the touchline, agonisingly missed its target – leaving the Stags to rue what could have been.

Despite the disappointment, Whales was upbeat about his team's performance. He said: “We have really stepped things up in the last two weeks. I challenged our squad's mental toughness in recent weeks and on Saturday we played with real composure, especially when the chips were down.

“It was a different feeling with five minutes to go as we were playing in a calm manner while the opposition were panicking.

“In the past it almost definitely would have been us losing our heads.”

Both teams exchanged early penalty goals, and Stags scored the first try as Ali Dunsdon chased down a kick by Steven Chantler to score.

Stung into action, Harborough hit back hard to score a converted try and two penalties before Whales added a further penalty before the break.

His trusty boot reduced the deficit 
early on in the second spell with a third penalty goal but Harborough responded with a try.

A late surge gave Stags a sniff of an away win, as Whales kicked his fourth penalty, and a slick lineout move saw second-rower Dougy Bentley crash over on 78 minutes. The try brought Stags to within a point of their opponents, but Whales could not add the crucial two points needed for victory.