Stags stung by another late twist as they have to settle for A14 derby draw at Kettering

Billy Bates scored a try for the second successive match.

Billy Bates scored a try for the second successive match. - Credit: Archant

Huntingdon completed an unwanted hat-trick last Saturday as they surrendered a winning position during the last play of a game for the third time this season.

The Stags saw a narrow home success turn into an agonising defeat at the hands of Bugbrooke back in early October and were then subjected to more last-gasp misery when pipped at Wellingborough at the end of that month.

And they were again undone by a late twist in their A14 derby clash at Kettering when having to settle for a creditable 14-14 draw after allowing their hosts the opportunity to guide over a drop goal with the final act of a blood and thunder battle.

“At least we managed to come away from this game with a draw, rather than suffering a defeat as we did on the other two occasions,” said head coach Damien Whales.

There were certainly reasons to be positive as a draw away to a top-four side is not to be sniffed at, but the Stags know they should have returned in possession of victory.

They fell behind to a try after a quarter-of-an-hour but produced a swift response as Billy Bates touched down for the second successive match. An exchange of penalties ensured the sides were still level at the break and they again traded boot blows early in the second half of a match littered with yellow cards. The teams collected four apiece.

Huntingdon edged ahead when Dan Malem kicked his third penalty of the afternoon, but Stags were masters of their own downfall as they allowed their hosts the opportunity to level in the last act of a rain-lashed contest.

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Whales added: “I asked the guys to produce a better performance than in recent matches and they did that, but there is no escaping the fact we couldn’t put the game to bed.

“Our management of it was poor after getting into a position from which we should have gone on to win. That said we have picked up a draw in one of the hardest away fixtures of the season.”

Stags hit the road again this Saturday when going to Market Rasen & Louth.