Match report by Sid Millar
Matches between Stags and Kettering are always keenly contested, with some calling it the A14 derby. Certainly there is plenty of history between the two clubs, and in last year’s corresponding fixture Stags ran out 27-26 winners in a famous win. That day it was cold and windy, with a patchy pitch which suited Huntingdon well. This year, it was a calm and sunny day, on a much improved pitch thanks to the hours of hard work put in by club volunteer Chris Matthews, but which played very much into the hands of a very strong Kettering outfit.
Whilst Stags have lost seven important players since last year’s game, Kettering have strengthened their squad, with the inclusion of two players with Premiership experience amongst others. This quality was quickly apparent, as the visitors scored their first try in the first couple of minutes, and quickly followed it up with another. They were then happy to soak up continued Stags pressure, and seize on mistakes – three further tries were scored from distance by the Blues, which was frustrating for the home team, but well scored by their opposition.
Despite three tries in total for Stags from Wayne Bradley, returning from an operation, stand in Fly Half Alex Anthony and the ever fleet footed Barnie West, the fourth try and with it a bonus point was only one handling error away on a couple of occasions. However, it should be said that despite the scoreboard running away from Stags, they were always up for the challenge physically and plenty of determination and resilience was shown by this relatively young team. Kettering were definitely the best team that Stags have faced this season, and would be a good bet for promotion this year. The score line probably wasn’t quite a fair refection of effort put in to the match by Huntingdon, but there can be no doubt that the better and more experienced side won, and won convincingly.
Having played four out of the top five sides in their first six matches of the season, Stags now have a run of four games against sides in the bottom half of the table, and will look to kick start their season again with a trip to second from bottom Leighton Buzzard next Saturday.