Rugby: Lions roar into second place

Darren Fox scores for the Lions against Nuneaton. Picture: Mick Sutterby
Darren Fox scores for the Lions against Nuneaton. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Peterborough Lions won a humdinger of a match at Bretton Park this afternoon (January 10).

The city side beat big promotion rivals Nuneaton 25-11 to leapfrog them into secocnd place in National League Division Three and at the same time avenge a narrow defeat from earlier in the season.

“That was our toughest game by far this season,” said Lions chairman Andy Moore. “Nuneaton are a great side and you could see why they arrived at the Den sitting in second place. It was hard fought all the way but we’ve turned it round from earlier in the season.

“We’ve proved once again that we are a major force in the National League and I thought at the end of the day we deserved the win.

“And we are worthy of second place in the table. Let’s just hope we can stay there and clinch a promotion play-off place.

“There are still lots of tough games coming up but whatever happens this Lions side has by far exceeded my expectations - not just today but overall this season.”

The Lions, playing with the stiff breeze at their backs, got off to a cracking start and went ahead after 11 minutes with a try by Reggie Reid after a smart lineout take by the outstanding Wade Schoeman and a forceful drive for the line by Vernon Horne ended just a yard short.

Will Carrington converted but the 7-0 advantage lasted just four minutes. The ‘Nuns’ edged their way into Lions territory for the first time and cashed in on a mistake by Mantas Vilimavicius to snatch a try and reduce the deficit to 7-5.

The remainder of the half was nip and tuck with play swinging from end to end.

Barnstorming runs by Saad Sait and Adam Barnard created a penalty chance for Carrington, which he successfully converted, and then a minute later Nuneaton kicked three ponts as well to make it 10-8.

With three minutes to go before the interval Lions were dealy a huge blow when player/coach Darren Fox was sin-binned for an offence at a lineout and Nuneaton went 11-10 up from the resultant penalty.

But there was just time before the half-time whistle for Carrington to squeeze the Lions back in front with another penalty.

It stayed at 13-11 for much of the second half. Nuneaton dominated it territorially but the Lions looked most likely to score with their powerful counter-attacks from deep. Unfortunately though every time they got in a great position they gave away penalties.

With time running out and Nuns mounting more and more pressure, a second yellow card for the Lions - this time awarded against Schoeman for not retreating - had the Lions supporters in a sweat.

But their fears soon turned to cheers with two injury-time tries. First Horne barged his way over after a cutting dash down the middle by Gedis Marcisauskas and a beautifully timed pass by Barnard, and then Fox drove over from close range after John Harlock had won a lineout five yards from the Nuneaton line.

Carrington converted the second of those tries to make it 25-11 and complete a win that Lions president Eddie Maleczek described as ‘momentous’.

There wasn’t such good news for Borough this afternoon. They crashed to a 27-0 loss at Market Harborough in Midlands Division Two East (South) and had Owain Pearce taken to hospital with a dislocated knee.