There’s a Saturday off for Peterborough Lions and Borough this weekend and nobody can deny they’ve earned it.
The two city sides have come flying through January unbeaten and in both cases they’re getting better by the game.
Last Saturday both excelled, albeit in different ways.
Borough consolidated their 13-point lead at the top of Midlands Division Two East (South) with an exciting brand of 15-man rugby to smash Olney 49-15 while the Lions ground out a 33-24 win in a bruising National League Division Three encounter at Towcester when the chips were down.
Lions’ plans were hit even before their game started as Andrew Dewdney suffered a hamstring injury in the warm-up.
And things went from bad to worse as the Northamptonshire side slipped in two tries within the first seven minutes to forge ahead 12-0.
But against a big, strong, grisly pack, the Lions muscled their way back into contention. They upped their physicality with Darren Fox, Chris Humphrey and Ben Howard growling the loudest, and by half-time were on level terms thanks to two tries from an unlikely source.
Twice hooker Jack Lewis bundled over from driving mauls formed at a lineout.
They maintained the high tempo in the second half and further touchdowns by Arturius Balcunius and Tom Dougherty gave them a 26-17 lead with just 10 minutes to go.
But just when it looked to be all over, the Lions suffered a big setback when Fox and Marius Andrijauskas were sin-binned leaving them to defend their lead for 10 minutes with 13 men.
Towcester got one try back but dogged defence denied them another and the Lions snatched a try at the death through Kaz Henderson to record a meritorious win.
Director of rugby Simon Moyles admitted his side ‘had won ugly’ but praised the players for their attitude.
“Sometimes good sides have to win ugly and that was us to day,” he said. “The players deserve credit not only for the way they fought back but for holding out at the end as well when we were short-handed.
“We refused to panic and there’s a great maturity about the side at the moment.”
Borough’s opponents Olney hadn’t lost since November and the game at Fengate was seen as a potential banana skin. But Borough showed no signs of slipping up.
They are strong in all departments this season - too strong for most at their level.
With a 13-point cushion and eight games to go they look set for a long-awaited return to Midlands Division One.
Particularly impressive on Saturday - although all 18 players used did a terrific job - were centre Tom Williams and full-back Danius Tomoliunas.
Williams, a quick thinker and a deceptively quick mover as well, crowned a superb afternoon’s work with a hat-trick of tries, while Lithuanian international Tomoliunas was dynamic on the counter-attack.