Lions lose their roar ahead of clash with the league leaders

Peterborough Lions will have to show a marked improvement on Saturday if they are to keep their Midlands Premiership promotion hopes alive.

Thursday, 30th November 2017, 12:17 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 9:10 am
Sam Crooks grits his teeth for the Lions against Sandbach. Picture: Mick Sutterby

They face unbeaten league leaders Birmingham away and do so on the back of a disappointing defeat at home to Sandbach.

They lost that match 19-17 as the visitors from Cheshire clinched victory with a last-kick-of-the-game penalty in the fifth minute of time added on.

Chairman Andy Moore said he was ‘gutted’ to lose the game in such a manner but admitted his team hadn’t played well again.

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Lions hooker Wes Cope pops up in a scrum against Sandbach. Picture: Mick Sutterby

They were also off the pace against Scunthorpe in the previous match and deserved to lose at Newport last month.

That’s three losses now in their last five games and they’ve dropped out of the promotion places.

Moore said: “We need to take a long hard look at ourselves to see where we are going wrong.

“We seem to have lost our way a bit after making such a fantastic start to the season when we strung six wins together.

Chris Humphrey on the attack for the Lions against Sandbach. Picture: Mick Sutterby

“Sandbach were a very well organised side who on the reflection of play probably deserved their win. But to lose like we did was still hard to take. I was gutted.”

The Lions did well to come back from 16-5 down to lead 17-16 with time running out but it was an advantage they never looked confident of holding. And sure enough at the third time of asking Sandbach were successful with a penalty kick.

As heartbreaking as it was for Lions supporters, most felt Sandbach deserved their success.

They dominated the game territorially with a regimental approach. They did the basics well and patiently waited for the Lions to mess up - something which happened all too frequently on Saturday.

Lions hooker Wes Cope pops up in a scrum against Sandbach. Picture: Mick Sutterby

The Lions persisted with their adventurous all-out attacking style of play, running the ball wide from everywhere, but on this occasion it didn’t come off. Too many passes were either wayward or spilled.

It will be interesting to see how coach Vili Ma’asi instructs his team to play against a Birmingham side who will be cock-a-hoop after smashing Old Halesonians 100-0 last Saturday.

Tongan World Cup star Ma’asi was a great acquisition for the Lions in the summer and he brought with him a handful of attractive signings.

But Birmingham also made a raft of summer signings to strengthen their squad and the two sides will be much different to last season when Birmingham won 18-10 at home but lost 23-10 in the Lions’ den.

Chris Humphrey on the attack for the Lions against Sandbach. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Birmingham’s top signings were highly experienced number eight Umraan Dixon-Jadwat, who played representative rugby in South Africa, and scrum-half Jack Secher, who played in Australia for Curtin University and in France for Avignon Le Pontet.

They also possess an explosive Fijian winger in JT Nabetelevu, formerly of Sale Sharks, and a prolific try-scoring hooker from South Africa in Zane Raimondi.