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Title chances take a nosedive for Haverhill Rugby Club after loss to Shelford IV opens up points gap

Haverhill Rugby Club have suffered a painful defeat to leave them seven points adrift of the league leaders, with captain Adam Hunt admitting their title chances have probably slipped away.

The Eastern Counties League Greene King 2 West side were beaten 36-22 at home to Shelford IV on Saturday to fall away in their chase of Mildenhall Red Lodge at the league’s summit.

And, with a significant gap of more than one victory now between them, Hunt knows Mildenhall will ‘take some catching’.

“It was always going to be a tough ask once they got ahead of us,” he said. “But it’s going to be very hard now, they’ll take some catching. I suppose the pressure is all on them though because, if they slip up or feel it, then we are still there.

“And so it is going to come down to that meeting against us in a few weeks, I suppose there’s a lot riding on that now.”

Haverhill – who narrowly beat Mildenhall 13-12 at home in the first of their two league games this season – will travel on February 16 for the reverse fixture which, were they to win, could close the gap to just two points.

The side will likely have only one fixture between now and then with their next match, an away trip to Cantabrigian III on January 26, unlikely to go ahead with their opponents having fulfilled only one fixture all season.

Instead, Hunt believes Saturday, February 9’s visit from Sawston will be the side’s next outing. He feels confident in his team’s ability, with the side securing a try-scoring bonus point on Saturday despite the defeat.

“We didn’t start well at all,” Hunt said. “We were 24-0 down at half-time I think, which was very disappointing.

“It was always going to be very hard to come back, although I’m happy with our second-half performance.

“We’re playing well and Sawston would be a great game to take on next.

“It’s really frustrating for us if a team don’t play though,” he added.

“We could do with the matches, particularly against the weaker sides in the league, to try things, blood new players and learn.

“It’s been tough to find the space to try new tactics and ways of playing, with so many sides calling games off.”

Hunt explained that an ‘oddity’ of this season means that, despite there being 11 teams in the division, each side will only play 18 fixtures rather than the expected 20.

He said the club had been told that this is due to Wendens Ambo and Wisbech II only playing half the number of fixtures, with each league team only facing them once this season.

Six of the 11 teams have been unable to fulfil fixtures at one stage or another so far this season, including their next opposition in Sawston.

“If they don’t turn up then it’s going to be a long break before taking on Mildenhall,” Hunt added. “We will just have to wait and see.”

Julian North, Mick Lansdowne (Adam Hunt conversion), Billy Notley and Paul Bergen touched down on Saturday for Haverhill.

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