Hungry Lions are waiting to pounce down at Bretton Park

Chris Humphrey drives forward for the Lions against Bridgnorth. Picture: Mick Sutterby
Chris Humphrey drives forward for the Lions against Bridgnorth. Picture: Mick Sutterby
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It’s payback time for Peterborough Lions in the English Clubs Championship on Saturday.

They entertain Midlands Premiership rivals Derby at Bretton Park (3pm) in their first home game of the season and certainly have a score to settle.

In the corresponding fixture last season, Derby stole a 21-20 victory with a late score even though Lions were the superior side.

It took Darren Fox’s men five more games to recover from that opening day setback and ultimately cost them promotion.

“We were mugged. It was daylight robbery,” said Lions chairman Andy Moore. “We couldn’t get going again after that. It’s time for revenge.”

Both sides go into the game on the back of five-point wins and a cracking contest is in prospect. Derby chalked up an eye-catching 34-17 victory at home to Old Halesonians in their first fixture while the Lions started with a 27-26 victory at Bridgnorth.

Although the Lions only won by a point and the Shropshire side missed a conversion with the last kick of the game, Moore was more than happy with what he witnessed.

He said: “It’s always nice to get a bonus point win on the opening day and it was a very worthy win against a much improved Bridgnorth side.

“Like us, they recruited well in the summer and the game was much tougher than we expected. Not many sides will get a win there this season.

“They were big, strong, fast, fit and well organised and their defence was exemplary. But I felt we just had the edge in what was a fantastic game of open rugby from the first minute to the last. Everybody was up for it and some big, hard tackles went in.”

The Lions play a more expansive game under new coach Vili Ma’asi and when fleet-footed centre Semisi Sitanislei Tei, one of a handful of new Tongan summer recruits, gets the ball in his hands there’s a real buzz about the place.

He scorched in from long range for one of the four tries on Saturday with the other touchdowns added by Nico Defeo, a fine solo effort, Chris Humphrey and Dan Malem.

Connor Gracey and Jonathan Hill missed the match through injury but could return for the Derby duel.