MATCH REPORTS: Bonus point wins for Lions and Borough

Darren Fox on the charge for the Lions against Lichfield. Picture: Mick Sutterby
Darren Fox on the charge for the Lions against Lichfield. Picture: Mick Sutterby

It’s been a cracking afternoon (December 17) for Peterborough rugby with both city sides enjoying handsome wins in the English Clubs Championship.

The Lions turned in one of their best displays of the season to beat Lichfield 31-12 at Bretton Park in National League Division Three while Borough were 22-7 winners at Market Harborough in Midlands East Division Two (South). Both sides picked up a bonus point for scoring four tries.

Nico Defeo scores a try for the Lions against Lichfield. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Nico Defeo scores a try for the Lions against Lichfield. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Things didn’t start well for the Lions though as they fell behind to a converted try - a result of two missed tackles at the back - with just three minutes on the clock.

But they picked themselves up quickly and went on to dominate the contest by outmuscling the Staffordshire side up front.

The back row trio of Sam Crooks, skipper Chris Humphrey and man-of-the-match Tom Gulland were immense and most of the Lions’ best moves stemmed from their artistry.

It was Crooks who opened the Lions account on 13 minutes with a try after a smart take at the tail of a lineout five metres out by Gulland. Will Carrington’s conversion levelled matters at 7-7.

Adrian  Enwright on the run for the Lions against Lichfield. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Adrian Enwright on the run for the Lions against Lichfield. Picture: Mick Sutterby

A break by the lively Gulland paved the way for try number two, scored by stand-off Nico Defeo, and then on the half-hour mark Carrington weaved his way through a gap in the Lichfield defence to touch down under the posts. He converted his own try to make it 19-7 to the Lions at the turnaround.

Two minutes into the second period and the bonus point was in the bag. Full-back Adrian Enwright, on loan from Cambridge, counter-attacked from deep and after the ball slipped smartly through several pairs of hands it was Defeo who finished off a wonderful move.

Lichfield tried hard to get back in the game, running the ball wide at every opportunity, and on 61 minutes their fleet-footed backs were rewarded for their persistence with a length-of-the-field touchdown.

Finally, with seven minutes remaining, Crooks got the fifth Lions try after the pack battered the Lichfield line for five minutes. Carrington slotted the conversion.

Sam Crooks scores his second try for the Lions. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Sam Crooks scores his second try for the Lions. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Delighted Lions chairman Andy Moore said: “That was the good old Lions. Everybody played their part. It was a superb all-round performance. We are an established National League side and now we’re beginning to show it.

“We’ve only got a small squad but we’re working together and everyone seems to be enjoying their rugby. It’s a great end to 2016 and I’m sure you’ll see many more performances like this in the second half of the season.”

The win takes Lions up to ninth place in the table.

With closest rivals Oundle losing 21-13 at Oadby, Borough have moved four points clear at the top of their division despite not producing anything like their best form at Market Harborough.

In fact, the Leicestershire side ruled the roost in the first half and led 7-0 at the interval.

But Borough turned the screw in the second half. They overpowered the big Harborough pack, gleaned more quality possession and got the passes to stick outside.

That led to two fine tries for livewire winger Chris Sansby, one for Nico Steenkamp, who’d earleir been issued with a yellow card for a high tackle, and one for skipper John Thompson. Danius Tomoliunas added one conversion.

While Sansby was the pick of the Borough backs, Sarel Pretorius and Paulius Strigunas were the best forwards on display.

Club vice-chairman Archie Bennett said: “They had a big set of forwards and came straight at us. We took time to settle but got there in the end.

“It wasn’t as slick as usual but we’re top of the league at Christmas so we’re happy.”

Stamford lost 36-10 at Belgrave, also in Midlands East Division Two (South).