It was a mixed afternoon for the two Peterborough clubs involved in English Clubs Championship action this afternoon (September 17) with the Lions suffering another shock defeat at home and Borough gaining a useful draw away.
The Lions entertained bottom-of-the-table Longton at Bretton Park in their latest National League Division Three fixture and slipped to a shock 34-27 defeat while Borough shared the spoils 15-15 at Okaham in Midlands East Division Two (South).
The Lions entered the new season expecting to mount a serious promotion challenge with a squad bolstered by a handful of experienced signings. But on the evidence of the three games they’ve played so far this term, they’re not producing anything like promotion form at this level.
Chairman Andy Moore wore a very forlorn look on the final whistle and said: “We’ve still not got the wheels on the wagon. It’s all very disappointing but hopefully we’ll turn it round soon.”
The Lions have now lost both their home games - defeats either side of a draw away to Lichfield - and once again it was a score in the last minute that proved decisive. With 79 minutes gone the Lions were sitting on a slender 27-24 lead. But just as they did against Derby a fortnight ago, they left the defensive door slightly ajar and Longton nipped in for a converted try to go 31-27 ahead. They also kicked a penalty deep into injury-time.
Nobody could argue that Longton didn’t deserve their win. The contest up front was pretty even but the visitors attacked with more pace and panache on the outside and their two wingers were responsible for three of their tries.
Longton led 19-12 at half-time with Sam Crooks sprinting in from the halfway line after a decisive break by Will Carrington for the first Lions try and Kaz Henderson touching down for their second after Crooks had won good lineout ball.
Carrington converted the first of those tries and then kicked a penalty early in the second half to close the gap to 19-15.
Poor defence let Longton in again for a try on 50 minutes but then the Lions cut the deficit to 24-22 with a super score by Pete Kolakowski following good approach play by skipper Chris Humphrey and scrum-half Tom Aviss. Carrington converted.
Then with an hour gone Lions hit the front for the first time as Henderson raced in at the corner, bravely crashing through three tackles as he surged towards the line.
That made it 27-24 and with four tries in the bag, a maximum five-point haul looked to be on the cards.
Instead, the late Longton try meant a return of just two points - one for four tries and one for losing by seven points or less.
Lions head cox Darren Fox missed the match due to a coaching course but will no doubt have plenty to say to his misfiring troops at training this week. Tackling practice should be top of the agenda.
On the plus side though, stalwarts Humphrey and Kolakowski battled their hearts out up front, as did Crooks, while Henderson excelled in attack for the backs.
Borough showed a marked impovement on last week’s performance - a 14-10 defeat at home by Oadby - in their match at Oakham.
In fact, they were very unlucky to only draw with debutant Lewis Hall hitting the post with a penalty with the last kick of the match.
Earlier Hall was successful with another penalty attempt and added the points to a penalty try. Nico Steenkamp completed Borough’s tally with a touchdown in the corner.
“We were disappointed to only draw seeing as we led 15-8 with three minutes to go and hit the post with a penalty deep into injury-time,” said vice-chairman Archie Bennett. “But the performance was much better than last week. We dominated for most of the second half and to draw against a side who beat us 20-0 last season is encouraging.”
Two other debutants in a much-changed Borough line-up - Michael Bean and Ben Higton - both acquitted themselves well.
Also in Midlands Division Two East (South), Stamford gained their first win of the season 24-19 at Market Harborough but Oundle lost 33-18 at Old Laurentians.