Peterborough Lions turned on the power at Bretton Park this afternoon (January 14) to stun National League Division Three leaders Nuneaton.
The city side won a bruising battle 20-13 to gain sweet revenge for the 53-0 drubbing they suffered in the Midlands back in September.
It was certainly not a pretty spectacle but that didn’t worry the Lions followers who celebrated wildly at the final whistle. Chairman Andy Moore was spotted dancing with delight in the stand.
“Fantastic, absolutely fantastic,” he said when he’d got his breath back. “That was a magnificent performance - our best game of the season by far.
“Nuneaton came here with a reputation for being tough up front - but we were tougher.
“It was a superb result in front of a big crowd. I couldn’t be happier.”
The Lions remain fifth in the table and have now lost just once in 10 games. For title favourites Nuneaton it was a first defeat since November 5.
It was, in truth, a very even contest that could have gone either way and the lead changed hands five times.
First to strike were the Lions when Will Carrington kicked a fifth minute penalty after a thumping tackle by Kaz Henderson and a gutsy charge-down by skipper Chris Humphrey put Nuneaton under pressure.
Ten minutes later and it was Nuneaton in the driving seat. They crossed for a converted try after a slip in defence by new Lions full-back Alanus Alasauskas.
Darren Fox, Ben Howard and Marius Andrijauskas soon had the Lions roaring again with some bone-cruching tackles, and good forward pressure enabled Adrian Enwright to pull the deficit back to 7-6 when he coolly kicked a drop-goal 25 yards out on 22 minutes.
Surging runs by Jack Lewis, Fox, Humphrey and Josh Waller paved the way for the next score - another Carrington penalty - and that put the Lions back in front at 9-7.
Head coach Fox, who had been immense for the first half-an-hour, then blotted his copybook by getting himself sin-binned and the Lions had to fight even harder to defend their lead.
They couldn’t quite manage it and Nuneaton forged 10-9 ahead just before half-time with a penalty.
With Fox back in the mix at the start of the second half, it was the Lions who scored next.
Tom Gulland, having his last game for the club before moving to New Zealand, won a lineout 25 yards out and that paved the way for Fox to get the touchdown from a driving maul.
A 14-10 advantage became 17-10 on 55 minutes with another drop-goal by Enwright, this time after Carrington caught and dispossessed a Nuneaton defender.
The Lions tails were now well and truly up and they produced a superb 10-minute purple patch that could so easily have brought another try.
Andrijauskas and Humphrey were both felled inches short after a 30-yard dash by the outstanding Carrington supported by Henderson.
But it was Nuneaton who retaliated with a penalty to make for a tense finale.
Nuneaton threw everything into attack with the score delicately poised at 17-13 but they couldn’t penetrate a brickwall of a defence in which Tom Lewis tackled as though his life depended on it.
Carrington slotted a very late penalty - in the eighth minute of injury time - to settle the nerves and Moore was beginning his celebratory jig.
Lions: Josh Waller, Jack Lewis, Ben Howard, Sam Crooks, Marius Andrijauskas, Darren Fox, Chris Humphrey, Tom Gulland, Tom Dougherty, Nico Defeo, Kaz Henderson, Tom Lewis, Will Carrington, Adrian Enwright, Alanus Alasauskas. Subs used: Conor Crown, Artur Balcunius, Alex Ioannou.