There were defeats for both the Lions and Borough in the English Clubs Championship this afternoon (October 24).
The Lions were pipped 14-10 at home by Sandbach in National League Division Three while Borough came unstuck 19-5 at Oadby Wyggestonians in Midlands Division Two East (South).
Once again the Lions were unable to field anything like a full-strength side for the game at Bretton Park. They had three players away on international duty and three more out injured and it was the Cheshire outfit who ruled the roost for most of the contest.
They had most of the possession and emerged worthy winners even though the Lions were pressing hard for a winning score at the end.
But as Lions chairman Andy Moore quite rightly pointed out: “Our forwards never really got the bit between their teeth until the last 10 minutes when it looked as though we could probably get something from the game.
“I thought we were poor today. It wasn’t that we didn’t try, it was simply a case of us not putting a good enough side out there. We beat Sandbach home and away last season but unfortunately the Lions team this season is a shadow of what it was last season.
“It’s all a bit frustrating but I’m sure we’ll turn it round soon.”
Player/coach Darren Fox, who didn’t play today, remained upbeat.
“I wouldn’t say I’m happy with the result but we showed plenty of spirit and it was a step in the right direction. We’ll be all right soon. It was only handling mistakes that cost us today.”
Sandbach took the lead with a converted try in the corner on 13 minutes and the Lions had barely touched the ball.
Skipper Chris Humphrey tried to rally his troops and with support from back row colleague Connor Gracey there were a couple of promising breaks by the home side.
But the support was lacking, or else ineffective, and it stayed at 7-0 until half-time.
That soon became 14-0 when three minutes into the second half Sandbach crossed for another converted try, again through good running by their threequarters.
Adam Barnard, the Lions’ liveliest back, was at the time sin-binned but his return sparked a mini-revival.
A huge punt unpfield by Will Carrington - and he kicked well all afternoon - sent the Lions prowling deep into Sandbach territory and from a lineout five metres out Matt Dunn gathered in well and Gracey rolled off the maul to touch down.
With 10 minutes to go Barnard sent a lovely pass out to Kaz Henderson after the forwards made good ground and the winger scuttled over the line wide out to close the gap to 14-10.
But despite plenty of huffing and puffing, the Lions were unable to add to their tally and had to make do with just a losing bonus point.
Borough actually led 5-0 at half-time at Oadby after dominating the first half. Winger Chris Sansby crossed for the try and it was looking good for the Fengate lads.
But they lost their way a bit after an injury to inspirational leader Sam Crooks early in the second half.
On 60 minutes Oadby levelled and soon after added a penalty. Then they grabbed two more tries late on to complete a rather flattering scoreline.
“That was disappointing because for an hour we were the better side,” said Borough vice-chairman Archie Bennett. “It was the same old story though. We didn’t turn all our pressure into enough points.”