Lions salvage some pride after their early mauling

Aki Lea scored a try for the Lions. Picture: Mick Sutterby
Aki Lea scored a try for the Lions. Picture: Mick Sutterby
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The scene was set for a great day in Peterborough rugby history - the first Level Four match featuring a local side and a good crowd basking in the September sunshine.

But for almost an hour the 200 home supporters at Sostice Park, Bretton, must have wondered what Peterborough Lions had let themselves in for.

Franco Perticaro in action for the Lions against Wharfedale. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Franco Perticaro in action for the Lions against Wharfedale. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Wharfedale were the visitors for the historic National League Two match and for 50 minutes they mauled some unusually tame Lions.

The big, beefy boys from West Yorkshire dominated all aspects of the match-up and with 50 minutes gone it was effectively game over as they forged into a 26-0 lead.

Whether they then took their foot off the gas or whether the Lions showed a dramatic improvement is open to debate. Perhaps it was a bit of both.

But for whatever reason, the Lions started to roar and Vili Ma’asi’s newly promoted side restored a fair bit of pride.

Tom Dougherty gets the ball away for the Lions. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Tom Dougherty gets the ball away for the Lions. Picture: Mick Sutterby

They were the more attacking force for the final half-an-hour and deservedly grabbed two tries to pull it back to 26-12. The first came from their marauding number eight Aki Lea and the second from lock forward Will Nankevil - two of seven debutants in the Lions squad.

And they could well have scored more tries but for a few mistimed passes.

That happy half-an-hour prompted the Lions director of rugby Simon Moyle to respond positively to his side’s first foray at the lofty level.

“It was a game of ifs, buts and maybes,” he said. “They were the better side for the first 40 minutes that’s for sure. I think we were a little bit in awe of them in that first half.

Nico Defeo on the attack for the Lions. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Nico Defeo on the attack for the Lions. Picture: Mick Sutterby

“But we came back strongly in the second half and created enough chances to have won the game. Unfortunately we didn’t take them and we have to learn to be more clinical at this level.

“On the whole though it was an encouraging performance and that last 30 minutes gives us something to build on.

“The harsh reality is we didn’t do enough to win on the day. We’ll take it on the chin and head for the next game.

“That’s at home to Hinckley - one of the top sides at this level for a couple of seasons - and we are certainly well aware of the enormity of the task ahead. It’s a baptism of fire but we love a challenge.”

Lions: J. Waller, C. Robinson, J. Lee, M. Andrijauskas, W, Nankevil, T. Lewis, C. Gracey, A. Lea, T. Dougherty, B. Young, K. Henderson, N. Defeo, S. Ma’asi, R. White, S. Meyers. Subs: D. Reilly, J. Askham, F. Perticaro, D. Elmore, W. Moore.

The Lions have signed 32 year-old Fijiian Sonoma Veikune, a back row player from Shelford who has played Rugby League for the Army. He won’t be included in Saturday’s squad though.