Lions win a thriller to keep survival hopes alive

Tom Gulland celebrates after scoring the Lions winning try. Picture: Mick Sutterby
Tom Gulland celebrates after scoring the Lions winning try. Picture: Mick Sutterby
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Peterborough Lions won a crunch relegation battle at Solstice Park, Bretton, this afternoon (January 19).

They took the honours 21-18 against South Leicester with Tom Gulland snatching the winning try in injury-time.

Lions skipper Conor Gracey had a fine game. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Lions skipper Conor Gracey had a fine game. Picture: Mick Sutterby

It was only the Lions’ fourth win from 18 outings in National League Two North but one that was well deserved. They produced a display full of guts and determination and were also very unlucky not to collect a bonus point as well with Gulland being felled just inches from the try-line on the final whistle.

“That was a dogged derby and we’re delighted to have won it,” said a smiling Lions chairman Andy Moore. “It was really hard work out there but that’s certainly one thing we have in abundance in our team. We’re all grafters.

“South Leicester are a club similiar in stature to us and similiar in standard. We knew it was going to be close and so it turned out. It could have gone either way.

“It’s a result that keeps our slim hopes of survival alive. It keeps us going.

Ben Young launches an attack for the Lions. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Ben Young launches an attack for the Lions. Picture: Mick Sutterby

“We’ve certainly shown in our last six games that we have a National Two side and we’ll keep fighting.”

The Lions couldn’t have made a worse start. They conceded a converted try inside the first minute as South Leicester scored from their first attack.

Within two minutes though the Lions were level. A devastating break of 20 yards by Jack Askham got them close to the visiting try-line and Charley Robinson and Aki Lea were both halted just a yard short before Fijian centre Sonoma Veikune burrowed his way over from close range. Ben Young added the conversion and it was 7-7.

That became 10-7 to South Leicester with a penalty and that’s the way it remained until half-time.

Charley Robinson on the charge for the Lions. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Charley Robinson on the charge for the Lions. Picture: Mick Sutterby

But the Lions should have been ahead. With Lea putting in some terrific carries and skipper Conor Gracey a great source of inspiration, they spent 20 minutes leading up to the interval camped in the South 22. Unfortunately they couldn’t turn that pressure into points.

An early penalty in the second half saw South stretch their advantage to 13-7 but on 54 minutes Veikune darted in for his second touchdown after a lovely break by lively fly-half Young.

Young again added the extras to make it 14-13 to the Lions but with just five minutes remaining the visitors snatched what looked like a winning try to move 18-14 ahead.

But back came the Lions again. Tom Lewis won a lineout and from the driving maul that ensued it was Gulland who got the all-important final touch. Young’s conversion made the final score 21-18.

The Lions remain bottom of the table, 18 points from safety with 12 games left.

Lions: Allen Carr, Kaz Henderson, Sonoma Veikune, Ben Peach, Tom Gulland, Ben Young, Franco Perticaro, Charley Robinson, Jack Askham, Josh Waller, Marius Andrijauskas, Will Nankevil, Tom Lewis, Conor Gracey, Aki Lea. Subs: Will Moore, Joe Lee, Christian Edbrooke, Dean Elmore, Scott Jackowski.