Superior Stags snap their losing streak to clinch revenge win

Dan Malem plays his final match for Huntingdon today before moving to New Zealand. Picture: HELEN DR

Dan Malem plays his final match for Huntingdon today before moving to New Zealand. Picture: HELEN DRAKE - Credit: Archant

Huntingdon had double cause for celebration last Saturday.

Not only did Stags snap a three-match losing streak when seeing off Wellingborough in a Midlands Division One East clash, they also avenged one of their most painful losses of the season.

Damien Whales’ men had contrived to concede a last-gasp try to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.

But there was no danger of any such twist at the Racecourse as they eased to a success which was considerably more commanding and comfortable than the eventual 29-19 scoreline might indicate.

Fifth-placed Stags stormed in for five tries to regain the winning thread while Wellingborough, who arrived in sixth, had to rely on kicking penalties to keep in contention.

Huntingdon head coach Whales said: “It was a game we needed to win, and we won it well.

“The fact it was fifth against sixth suggested it might be close, but we were much more dominant than the final score might suggest.

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“We played a brand of rugby that makes us very difficult to beat when we get it right as we did last Saturday.”

Stags laid the foundations for victory in the first half when forging into a seven-point advantage despite playing into the wind.

The visitors did hit the front through the first of their quartet of penalties, but Mauro de Almeida soon marched over to put Stags on top.

Two further Wellingborough penalties were then followed by the pick of the hosts’ tries as powerhouse James Thorp provided the coup de grace to a patient build-up.

Malem followed it up with his only successful conversion and soon added his name to the list of try-scorers when galloping onto his own up-and-under kick to touch down.

The last of the visiting penalties just before the break ensured they stayed in touch, but Huntingdon secured victory and a bonus point in the second half.

Debutant Charlie Potter, a new recruit to the club, sent in Robbie Polson for a fourth try, which was scored while Stags were down to 14 men with Matt Davies-Binge having received a yellow card.

But they were back to a full compliment when Malem’s long pass gave Charlie Saunders the opportunity to claim a first try at senior level.

Wellingborough did snatch a try of their own late on to give an unflattering look to the scoreline, but it was no threat to Stags’ superiority.

It was a fixture which featured a big positive and a major negative on the injury front.

Tad Chapman returned to the fray for the first time since suffering a broken leg on the opening day of the season, but second row star Wayne Bradley could now miss the rest of the campaign after tearing a calf muscle.

Whales added: “It was great to see Tad back involved. Having a player of his experience back is a huge boost.

“But potentially being without Wayne for the rest of the season is a massive blow as he has been one of our outstanding players in the second row.

“Charlie had a very promising debut though so hopefully he can pick up that mantle.”

Stags travel to Ilkeston this Saturday for another fifth-versus-sixth clash.