Crunch game at Bretton as the Lions bid to tame play-off rivals

Jonathan Hill on the run for the Lions at Newbold on Avon. Picture: Mick Sutterby
Jonathan Hill on the run for the Lions at Newbold on Avon. Picture: Mick Sutterby
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Peterborough Lions face arguably their most important game of the season on Saturday when they entertain Newport at Solstice Park (2.15pm).

The Shropshire side will arrive at Bretton breathing down the Lions’ necks as the two battle it out for second spot in the Midlands Premiership and an end-of-season promotion play-off place.

Birmingham, they both concede, have the title wrapped up.

“We’ve played two games more than Newport but assuming they get bonus point wins from their two games in hand then we’re just one point clear,” said Lions chairman Andy Moore.

“So it’s all to play for. To keep our challenge going we need to win. This will be our big test.

“And the lads are all after revenge after they beat us 41-21 at their place back in October.

“It has all the makings of a cracking game. You can’t afford to miss it!”

The Lions warmed up for the big game with a 21-5 victory at Newbold on Avon on Saturday.

They missed the bonus point but were just pleased ‘to get the job done’.

“It was a horrible ol’ game played in awful conditions,” said Moore. “It was played on a bog and in the second half you just couldn’t make out who was who. It really was a messy, muddy slog and the ball never really got away from the forwards.

“They used the conditions well and at the end of the day we were just glad to get out of there with a win.”

Tom Dougherty and Kaz Henderson (2) scored the Lions tries, all converted by Nico Defeo.

Tom Gullands and Rory White missed the game with injury niggles but should be fit for Saturday. Chris Humphrey and Conor Gracey should also be fit after picking up knocks at Newbold.

n Borough’s bright start to 2018 ended at Northampton Old Scouts where they lost 17-13 - their first defeat this year in Midlands Division One.

““It was just one of those days when nothing seemed to click,” said Borough vice-chairman Archie Benntt.

“We had 75 per cent of the possession in the first half with the wind at our backs and playing down the slope yet somehow turned round 14-3 down after gifting them a couple of tries through sloppy tackling.

“We improved a bit in the second half and got two tries back but then we ran out of time.

“Fair play to Old Scouts. They adapted far better to the boggy conditions and deserved to win.”

Oundle also suffered a shock loss, going down 24-5 at home to Wellingborough.

Borough face opposition from Northampton again this weekend. They’re at home to Old Northamptonians (2.15pm) and that will be a hard game.

Oundle are away to Paviors.

n It wasn’t a good day at the office for Spalding.

They were away to Midlands Division Three East (North) leaders Long Eaton and crashed 62-19.

They also lost scrum-half Will Shields with a broken wrist and Harry Brown was red carded for throwing a punch in retaliation.

n An opening 20-minute spell that scrum-half Guy Cunningham described as “the best rugby we’ve played in seven or eight years” put Deepings well on the way to a welcome win over Wellingborough Old Grammarians in Midlands Division Four East (South).

They crossed for three tries during that purple patch - scored by Gareth Silverwood, Jack Elliot and Cunningham - and went on to win 29-17.

n Bourne moved a step closer to promotion from Midlands Division Four East (South) after a 26-19 home victory over Bedford Swifts. Sam Evison kicked 16 of their points.