MATCH REPORT: Lions pipped at the post

Ben Howard scores his second try for the Lions against Sandbach. Picture: Mick Sutterby
Ben Howard scores his second try for the Lions against Sandbach. Picture: Mick Sutterby
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Peterborough Lions suffered a heart-breaking defeat at Solstice Park, Bretton, this afternoon (November 25).

They went down 19-17 against in-form Cheshire outfit Sandbach, who nicked victory with a last-kick-of-the-game penalty in the fifth minute of time added on.

Pete Kolakowski on the attack for the Lions against Sandbach. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Pete Kolakowski on the attack for the Lions against Sandbach. Picture: Mick Sutterby

It was the Lions second defeat on the trot and as a result they have dropped out of the Midlands Premiership promotion places.

They are now third, 11 points adrift of runaway leaders Birmingham, who entertain the Lions next Saturday.

And, as Lions chairman Andy Moore said, his team will need to buck their ideas up if they’re to get anything from that game.

“We weren’t at our best again today which was disappointing,” said Moore. “We need to take a long hard look at ourselves to see where we are going wrong.

Sam Crooks on the run for the Lions against Sandbach. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Sam Crooks on the run for the Lions against Sandbach. Picture: Mick Sutterby

“We seem to have lost our way a bit after making such a fantastic start to the season.

“We’ve been beaten today by a very well organised side who on the reflection of play probably deserved their win. But it was still hard to take defeat in such a manner. I’m gutted.”

Sandbach, coached by the Sale Sharks international pairing of Rob Webber and Byron McGuigan, were regimental in their approach play. They played it all by the book and took no risks.

The Lions on the other hand played a wide, much more adventurous expansive game and ran everything from deep. When it comes off, it’s not only exciting to watch but it reaps rich rewards as well.

Semisi Sitanislei Tei launches a Lions attack. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Semisi Sitanislei Tei launches a Lions attack. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Today, in freezing conditions, it didn’t come off. The Lions passing was often wayward and too many crucial balls were spilled.

With 20 minutes gone the Lions found themselves trailing 16-5 after gifting Sandbach three penalties and a try. The Lions score, in the sixth minute, was a touchdown by Conor Gracey following a burst from deep by full-back Semisi Sitanislei Tei.

A second try arrived for the Lions on 31 minutes as prop Ben Howard powered over from close range after some good build-up play by Sam Crooks, Howard, Wes Cope, Rory White and Sioki Vaha Taufu’i.

Nico Defeo slotted the conversion and the Lions deficit stood at 16-12 at the break.

Midway through the second half after soaking up 20 minutes of pressure, the Lions broke away with a counter-attack down the touchline by Kaz Henderson to snatch the lead as Howard stormed round the blindside from a maul 15 yards out to touch down for his second try of the afternoon.

The Lions continued to make simple errors though and were lucky to maintain their one-point lead as Sandbach put two kickable penalties wide with the minutes ticking away.

But it was a case of third time lucky for the visitors as they made no mistake with another kick much closer to the posts right at the death.