Lions nearer relegation zone than the promotion play-offs

Lions forward Marius Andrijauskas receives a red card in the match at Syston. Picture: Mick Sutterby
Lions forward Marius Andrijauskas receives a red card in the match at Syston. Picture: Mick Sutterby
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Darren Fox is convinced his wounded Lions will come back fighting.

The player/coach watched his side lose for the third time on Saturday - 27-15 at Syston - and with five points deducted for fielding an ineligble player against Newport, they have sunk into the bottom half of the National League Division Three table, just above the relegation zone.

That’s a far cry from what was expected this term. After just missing out on the promotion play-offs last season, the Lions hierarchy were talking about outright promotion this time round, especially after a big recruitment drive in the summer.

But injuries and unavailability problems have proved costly and a lack of discipline on the part of some of the senior players has cost the Lions dear.

Two weeks ago, experienced prop Nico Steenkamp was sent off for a shoulder tackle against Old Northamptonians. On Saturday at Syston, Marius Andrijauskas, a Lithuanian international forward, also received a red card after picking up two yellows.

“Five yellows and two red cards in the last two games is not good enough,” said Fox. “It makes it so hard when you’re playing for most of the game with only 14 men.

“It’s something we’re obviously not happy with and plan to put right.

“But it’s injuries and unavailabilties that have been the biggest concern.

“We haven’t had any consistency to selection at all. The pack in particular has been badly disrupted. Tom Laws, Wade Schoeman and Chris Cutts are long-term injury problems and when you add players of the calibre of Chris Humphrey and John Harlock to the list it hurts us. We’ve also missed Darrell Ball, who is away on World Cup duty with the army for a month.

“All we can do is knuckle down at training and work hard in the paddock. If we do that I’m confident we can turn it round.

“We’ve created an image of a big-spending club, which is not the case I might add, and everybody wants to beat us. They raise their game and that’s only natural.

“At the moment we’re struggling to cope with that but once we get something close to a full-strength side out we’ll be a major force again in this division.”

There are no English Clubs Championship matches this weekend which is good news for the Lions. It will allow some of those players carrying knocks more time to recover.

Lions chairman Andy Moore admitted to being ‘shellshocked’ on the final whistle at Syston.

He said: “Syston weren’t a good side at all. In fact I have to say they were the worst side we’ve played in two years. Yet they’ve gone and beat us 27-15. It’s unbelievable. I’m shellshocked. I just don’t know how we lost that game.”

The Lions led 12-10 at the break through tries by Vernon Horne and Connor Gracey but in the second half it all went wrong Andrijauskas received that second yellow and Ben Howard and Matt Dunn were sin-binned .