MATCH REPORTS: Three wins on the spin for the Lions and Borough are too strong for Stamford

Sam Crooks is congratulated after scoring the first Lions try. Picture: Mick Sutterby
Sam Crooks is congratulated after scoring the first Lions try. Picture: Mick Sutterby
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It was a great afternoon (November 19) for Peterborough rugby with both city sides chalking up English Clubs Championship wins in local derbies.

The Lions entertained Bedford Athletic at Bretton Park and took the honours 30-25 in National League Division Three while over at Fengate there was a 46-15 victory for Midlands Division Two East (South) table-toppers Borough against Stamford.

Arturius Balcunius scores a try for the Lions against Bedford Athletic. Picture: Mick  Sutterby

Arturius Balcunius scores a try for the Lions against Bedford Athletic. Picture: Mick Sutterby

The Lions moved up three places to ninth in the table following a third win on the trot but it was never plain sailing for the Bretton boys in a thrilling match.

The lead changed hands several times in the first half, which ended 18-12 in Lions’ favour, and not until midway through the second half did they create some breathing space at 30-17. But even then Bedford came back strongly to make for a nerve-tingling finale.

Sam Crooks and Ryan Morris were first-half try-scorers for Lions and in the second half it was Arturius Balcunius and Nico Defeo who went over. Will Carrington kicked two penalties and two conversions.

Crooks and Ben Howerd were both yellow carded while chairman Andy Moore’s son Will Moore and new arrival Peni Faingaa from Tonga both made their Lions debuts as second-half substitutes and emerged with credit.

Hat-trick hero Michael Bean attacks for Borough against Stamford. Picture: Kevin Goodacre

Hat-trick hero Michael Bean attacks for Borough against Stamford. Picture: Kevin Goodacre

Chairman Moore said: “It was a cracking game, a typical nip-and-tuck local derby that had a good crowd on the edge of their seats.

“I thought we deserved the win although it did get a bit scary at the end.”

Borough and Stamford were arch enemies in the days before league rugby and today’s match-up was the first between the two clubs in the English Clubs Championship. A big crowd and a fiercely-contested battle was anticipated but neither materialised.

The old rivalry, it seems, has diminished over the years and today’s action was tame compared to that served up in years gone by.

Paulius Strigunas is in possession for Borough against Stamford. Picture: Kevin Goodacre

Paulius Strigunas is in possession for Borough against Stamford. Picture: Kevin Goodacre

The fact that it was so one-sided didn’t set the pulses racing. Borough were quickly out of the starting blocks and eased the nerves by slamming in two tries within the first 10 minutes.

Stamford were stunned and tried hard to get back into the game. But for all their honest endeavour they were no match for opponents who outsmarted and outpaced them.

Expertly marshalled by slick stand-off Tom Williams, the Borough backs turned in a superb display of high-speed handling and passing and tries came at regular intervals.

Super centre Michael Bean raced in for the first after a chip ahead by Paulius Strigunas and Williams nipped in for the second following a dash down the wing by Jonno Anderson and a bullocking burst by Nico Steenkamp.

Three more Borough touchdowns arrived before the break even though they went down to 13 men for a while following the sin-binning of Anderson and Steenkamp.

Williams launched a counter-attack from deep to pave the way for Bean’s second, Joe Andresen got the fourth try after a dazzling run by Anderson and then the ever-alert Williams darted in for an interception try from 30 yards out.

Two successful conversion kicks from Danius Tomoliunas made it 29-3 to Borough at the turnaround with Rich Thompson having kicked a penalty for Stamford.

Borough were quickly into their stride after the interval as skipper John Thompson found space to canter 30 yards before putting Anderson over in the corner.

On the hour-mark classy full-back Andresen created a score for Tomoliunas, who converted his own try to make it 41-3.

Stamford refused to lie down and Jack Jones barged over for a consolation effort converted by Thompson.

In the last couple of minutes Bean completed his hat-trick with a solo effort from the halfway line to round off Borough’s scoring while Sean Gill scored a pushover try for Stamford on the final whistle.

It may well have been a contest that lacked the fireworks of yesteryear but Borough’s sparkling back play and eight wonderful tries made up for it.

The win keeps Borough two points clear at the top.

In second place are Oundle, who won 42-32 at home to Belgrave.

Spalding lost 33-12 to Nottingham Casuals in Midlands Division Two East (North).