Lions beaten but far from disgraced on their National League debut

Peterborough Lions were unable to mark an historic day for local rugby with a win this afternoon when they lost 26-12 to Wharfedale.

Saturday, 1st September 2018, 6:55 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd September 2018, 12:19 pm
Aki Lea scores the first Lions try. Picture: Mick Sutterby
Aki Lea scores the first Lions try. Picture: Mick Sutterby

The game at Solstice Park, Bretton, was the first Level Four game featuring a Peterborough side but the Lions never looked like christening their National League Two (North) debut with a victory.

For an hour it was all Wharfedale. The beefy boys from West Yorkshire were stronger in all departments.

They were quickly into their stride and scored a try after 10 minutes. By half-time they had stretched their advantage to 19-0.

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Will Nankevil scores the second Lions try. Picture: Mick Sutterby

The Lions, with four debutants in the starting line-up and another three on the bench, just couldn’t get hold of the ball. And on the few occasions they did have it, they dropped it.

They made just one foray into the Wharfedale 22 in a very one-sided opening period when Nico Defeo, Josh Waller and Aki Lea were all felled just a yard short of the try-line.

It was much more of the same at the start of the second period and more early pressure from Wharfedale, who boasted a superb back row trio, saw them cross for their bonus point try and a 26-0 lead.

But, with half-an-hour left, the Lions suddenly sprang to life. They at last gave their supporters - and there were well over 200 of them - something to cheer as first number eight Lea bundled his way over from close range following two good carries by hooker Jack Askham.

Lions winger Kaz Henderson makes a jump for it. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Then with 10 minutes remaining and after sustained Lions pressure, new second row Will Nankevil touched down in the corner following a 50-yard run by centre Rory White and good support play by Dean Elmore and Askham, the latter delivering the perfect scoring pass.

Ben Young converted this one to make the final score 26-12 to the visitors.

And that, for the Lions hierarchy, was a pleasing end to a contest that at one stage threatend to become a landslide defeat for the city club.

“It’s tough at the top,” said Lions chairman Andy Moore. “We know what it’s about at this level now but we showed in the second half that we can compete against teams like Wharfedale - a team who have after all just spent 20 years playing at Level Three.

Josh Waller drives forward for the Lions. Picture: Mick Sutterby

“We had a good crowd in, the weather was good, the opposition were a great bunch and now we’re all looking forward to the next game - home to Hinckley next Saturday”

Lions: Josh Waller, Charley Robinson, Joe Lee, Marius Andrijauskas, Will Nankevil, Tom Lewis, Conor Gracey, Aki Lea, Tom Dougherty, Ben Young, Kaz Henderson, Nico Defeo, Suva Ma’asi. Rory White, Shaquille Meyers. Subs: Dan Reilly, Jack Askham, Franco Perticaro, Dean Elmore, Will Moore.