Stags have big hill to climb

Midlands 3 East (South) Ampthill 27 Huntingdon Stags 6 AFTER a miserable start to their 2006/07 rugby union campaign, Stags were hopeful of a change of fortune but it was not to be. With its pronounced slope, partisan supporters and an intimidating clubho

Midlands 3 East (South)

Ampthill 27 Huntingdon Stags 6

AFTER a miserable start to their 2006/07 rugby union campaign, Stags were hopeful of a change of fortune but it was not to be.

With its pronounced slope, partisan supporters and an intimidating clubhouse very close to the pitch, Ampthill is always a difficult place for visiting sides and Saturday proved no exception for Huntingdon.


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A sodden surface was made worse in the second half by a torrential downpour - when Stags were kicking up the slope - and the heavy Ampthill pack left the visitors breathless.

Despite the obstacles, Huntingdon produced a creditable display that was marred only by conceding two similar soft tries in the final quarter. Speculative kicks ahead by the home side which were not dealt with by the visiting defence proved their undoing.

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These tries saw the score become 27-6 from 13-6 in the space of a few minutes, repeating all-too familiarly the pattern of recent defeats to Stewart & Lloyds and Banbury.

Stags scored first through an Elliot Baldwin penalty but Ampthill swiftly replied with a penalty and a try from a quick tap when the visitors were caught napping.

A crucial moment came when Simon Orange was through for what seemed a good try only to be brought back for a marginal forward pass.

Despite Baldwin striking a second good kick, an 8-6 deficit at half time meant a minor miracle was needed in the second period.

Early on, and despite a fine covering tackle by Quentin Minnaar, the referee ruled that the home winger had properly grounded the ball in the corner - another marginal call. Thereafter Stags defended solidly, especially the back row, and gave as good as they got in the close quarter exchanges.

Huntingdon had spells of possession but were unable to exert sufficient sustained pressure to seriously trouble the home defence. A consolation score looked possible right at the end when Ampthill had both their second rows in the bin and Stags had a five-metre scrum but the opportunity passed by.

Stags now lie third from bottom of the division and will be hoping for better fortune when mid-table Towcester visit Hinchingbrooke on Saturday, kick-off 2.15pm.

- Huntingdon enjoyed a rare victory in a friendly at St Neots over the new year. Rob Grant, Matt Durrant and Warwick Blamey were among the scorers as Stags earned some much-needed confidence with a 23-3 triumph.

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