Peterborough Lions were finally forced to concede that promotion hopes for this season have vanished following a second successive defeat in National League Division Three on Saturday.
The Bretton side were beaten 38-10 at Sandbach and have slipped to seventh in the table with no chance now of catching the top two teams.
But head coach Darren Fox has told his players they’ve got everything to play for between now and the end of April.
“If we are to move forward as a club the boys have got to be mindful of the fact that new players will be brought in for next season. So they are playing for their Lions futures,” stated Fox.
“I’m only here for one reason - to be a winner and to be successful. So as long as I’m head coach every player has something to prove in every game.”
The Lions actually led 10-7 after 50 minutes at Sandbach but then faded badly.
“All credit to Sandbach. They worked harder, they looked fitter and they showed more urgency,” said Fox.
“Physically and mentally we were frail and we need to pick ourselves up for Scunthorpe this weekend.
“If we turn up like we did last weekend we’ll be in for a tough afternoon against the division’s in-form team.
“The last two games have been a reality check for us. We were getting a bit too sure of ourselves. We have to take it on the chin and knuckle down again.”
Nico Steenkamp, Sam Crooks and De La Rey Veenendall all face late fitness tests aahead of the Scunthorpe game at Bretton Park (2.15pm).
Borough are also at home on Saturday - they face Olney in Midlands Division Two East (South) - and certainly need a win against a side one place above them in the table.
They lost for the fifth game on the trot at Oakham last weekend (22-0) and relegation fears are beginning to re-surface again.
Borough seconds, however, chalked up their biggest win of the season when destroying Dunstablians seconds 73-0.
Their try-scorers were Perry Whincup (2), Tom Downer, Nathan Holt, Jack Drewery (2), Blake Heron, Rob Moulds, Jack Trolove and Owain Pearce.
Moulds, Holt and Luke Smedley were outstanding and there was a welcome return for second row Heron.
There was also a big win for Borough Ladies. They beat Bury St Edmunds 71-29 at Fengate on Sunday with Anne Sayle scoring four tries. Zoe Wright scored two tries and kicked six conversions.
Resurgent Spalding stormed to their first Midlands Two East (North) away win of the season on Saturday. They beat Nottingham Casuals 23-17 with tries by Ed Booth, Harry Sharman, Adam McHugh and Dan Adams to move out of the relegation zone.
Oundle are closing in on the Midlands Division Three East (South) title.
They beat local rivals Stewart & Lloyds 50-22 on Saturday and with Long Buckby not gaining a bonus point they have stretched their lead at the top to 16 points.
They now need just 10 points from five games to be crowned champions.
Ex-Peterborough Lions players were again well to the fore for them against S&L.
Pack leader Saad Sait was a huge inspiration and the driving force up front, while Rob Shingles scored four tries and Joe Sagoe bagged a pair.
Four Hungarians have been guests of Peterborough Rugby Club this week.
The four are from the Budapest Exiles club and have been looking at how an English club with a full compliment of mini and junior teams operates.
They also found time to turn out for the Juggers on Saturday and three of them scored tries in a 44-5 win over Deeping Dinosaurs.
The Peterborough Touch Rugby Club sessions on the 3G pitch at Bushfields on a Friday night (7-9pm) are gaining in popularity.
Max Raymond, who is in the England Over 45s squad for this year’s European Touch Rugby Championships, takes the sessions and will now be joined by Tim Humphreys from Peterborough Lions.
Humphreys has also been appointed chairman of the club and plans to host tournaments at the Lions den at Bretton during the summer.