ALTHOUGH understandably disappointed with his side’s defeat, Stags player-coach Damian Whales wasn’t too downbeat about his team’s overall performance.

Rugby

Midlands Two East South

Huntingdon Stags 5 Market Harborough 15

ALTHOUGH understandably disappointed with his side's defeat, Stags player-coach Damian Whales wasn't too downbeat about his team's overall performance.

Harborough inflicted only Huntingdon's second reverse of the season at the Racecourse and, afterwards, Whales declared: “We are still continuing to take steps forward.

“For 79 minutes our concentration was high and we performed well but it was a shame to let that slip for the other one minute of the match and concede two soft tries.”

Stags found themselves 7-0 down after only 30 seconds of play, when a kick behind their defensive line was not tidied up and a Harborough winger dotted down for the opening score - which was converted - and meant the hosts were playing catch-up from then on.

Some weak defence on the wing saw Stags back under their posts after conceding a second try to the same Harborough winger, this time unconverted, before a penalty goal put the visitors 15-0 up at the break.

A lack of communication between players and the referee at the breakdown turned the second half into a scrappy affair, with three yellow cards handed out, as the two forward packs battled for dominance.

Stags scored their only try of the afternoon, after several phases saw them advance into Harborough territory, when Whales put in a well weighted cross-field kick for winger Heath Crawford to latch on to and go in for an unconverted score in the corner.

In the final ten minutes, the hosts could not muster up a further score, which would have earned them a bonus point

Whales had no complaints about the result and also praised the efforts of young flanker James Turner, who put in a solid 60-minute performance, despite suffering lacerations in the groin area when warming up.

“This league is too tight to gift opponents ten or more points and then expect to come back and win,“ said Whales.

“Full credit to James, he took the injury in his stride and played a good game. If it was me I would have been off to A&E right away but he wanted to play on for his team. It was rather Buck Shelford like.”

This weekend, Stags head to bottom side Northampton BBOB where they will be looking to emulate last year's league double, having won the home fixture 40-7 earlier in the season.