It was a mixed afternoon for Peterborough rugby in the English Clubs Championship today (December 5) with the Lions suffering a big defeat but Borough gaining a narrow victory.
The Lions travelled to unbeaten National League Division Three leaders Hinckley and suffered a 39-18 loss while Borough bounced back from last week’s dreadful cup showing to win 25-17 against Rushden and Higham in Midlands Division Two East (South).
Hinckley had won all 11 of their fixtures going into today’s game and that impressive record never came under threat today.
The Lions’ confidence had been boosted by a run of three wins last month but they never looked like extending that sequence in Leicestershire.
They were late arriving due to a bad traffic accident on the A47 and had little time for a proper warm-up.
Consequently they were caught cold at the start and were 19-0 down in as many minutes.
“We knew they’d come at us from the start and when they did we struggled to cope. We just couldn’t get the journey out of our system. Hinckley hit us hard and fast and it was game over,” said Lions chairman Andy Moore.
“But we came back at them in the second half against the gale and got close to a bonus point. So all credit to the lads for that.
“At one stage it looked as though we were going to get hammered by 50 or 60 points but we stuck at it and scored three good tries.
“The scoreline looks bad but we gave a good account of ourselves and for 20 minutes in the second half we were the better side.”
Tom Lewis scored the first of the Lions tries on 25 minutes, breaking from a maul and dashing 20 metres to touch down, and Will Carrington slotted a penalty to make the half-time score 26-8.
Early in the second half Vernon Horne raced the full length of the pitch for a try to narrow the gap to 26-13 and the Lions were mounting a spirited comeback.
And it got even better as a 20-minute spell of Lions pressure was rewarded with another try from Horne.
That made it 29-18 and the bonus point looked a real possibility for the boys from Bretton.
But a fourth try just wouldn’t come and in the dying minutes Hinckley kicked another penalty and scored a converted try for a somewhat flattering margin of victory.
Borough suffered a terrible start against Rushden at Fengate when conceding a soft try with just four minutes gone.
But with the gale at their backs they fought back to lead 12-3 after half-an-hour with four wind-assisted penalties from range by Harry Roe.
Then on 33 minutes Borough grabbed their first try when debutant centre Johnny Anderson stole the ball out of a Rushden player’s hand and darted along the touchline to score from 40 yards out.
Rushden sneaked in their second try on the stroke of half-time as Borough were guilty of poor tackling and the interval score was 17-12.
That didn’t appear to be a big enough lead as run-loving Rushden turned round to play with the strong wind advantage.
Yet Borough played much better against the gale than with it behind them. They beefed up their tackling, cut out the handling errors and displayed much more attacking nous.
Skipper John Thompson ralled his forwards, second row Stefan Almond responding with relish, and half-backs Roe and Joe Andresen masterminded attack after attack.
And in nippy Anderson, strong-running centre partner George Offer and speedy wingman Chris Sansby they had three highly effective players outside them.
Anderson almost put Zac McClure over early in the second half after a scorching 40-yard burst and Tom Stuffins was felled just a yard short after a telling break by Almond.
Eventually the third Borough try came on the hour-mark when Roe went blind at a scrum and sent Sansby scurrying in from 30 yards out.
Roe also kicked a penalty and it stayed at 25-12 to Borough until the last five minutes when Rushden added their third touchdown.