MATCH REPORT: Lions roar into the promotion play-offs

Lions skipper Chris Humphrey shows his delight at the final whistle. Picture: Mick Sutterby
Lions skipper Chris Humphrey shows his delight at the final whistle. Picture: Mick Sutterby
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Peterborough Lions finished their Midlands Premiership season on an all-time high at Solstice Park, Bretton this afternoon (April 21).

The city side beat Bridgnorth from Shropshire 38-12 to gain the necessary five points they needed to finish as runners-up to Birmingham in the final placings.

Alex Ioannou in possession for the Lions. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Alex Ioannou in possession for the Lions. Picture: Mick Sutterby

And, more importantly, that best-ever second-place finish has earned them a promotion play-off at Hull next Saturday with the star prize a coveted spot in National League Two next season.

“I couldn’t be happier,” said Lions chairman Andy Moore. “To finish where we have is a massive achievement and we’ve done it playing attractive, adventurous rugby.

“Now we are just one game away from achieving my big dream of National League Two rugby. It’s what I said I wanted to achieve five years ago and now we are 80 minutes away from fulfilling it.

“All credit to the lads and of course our coach Vili Ma’asi. They’ve been superb all season. Let’s just hope they can do it just one more time next Saturday.

Jack Lewis beavers his way in for a try. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Jack Lewis beavers his way in for a try. Picture: Mick Sutterby

“I’ve been useless this week, unable to concentrate on anything ahead of the big game. Next week I know I’m going to be worse. Hopefully all the suffering will be worth it in the end.”

Although today’s visitors were a very well drilled side full of running, they weren’t a match for the Lions and the outcome never looked in doubt once Conor Gracey had charged over for the first try on seven minutes after splendid approach play by Ben Young, Nico Defeo, Tom Lewis and Tom Gulland. Young converted the try.

Seven minutes later it was 12-0. This time centre Jon Hill touched down after more good running by Defeo and some strong carries by Gracey, Josh Waller and Niko Moa.

Full-back Semisi Sitanislei Tei, who was a hanful all afternoon for the Bridgnorth tacklers, paved the way for try number three, scored by coach’s son Suva Ma’asi on 32 minutes.

Conor Gracey on his way to scoring the first Lions try. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Conor Gracey on his way to scoring the first Lions try. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Bridgnorth pinched a try back just on the stroke of half-time to make it 17-5.

A huge cheer went up 11 minutes into the second half as Gulland raced in to score the bonus-point try after Tom Lewis once again reigned supreme at a lineout and Sitanislei Tei waltzed past three defenders before feeding Gulland.

This one was converted by Defeo and he also added the extras to the Lions’ last two tries - the first of which was scored by Jack Lewis after big brother Tom won another lineout and the second one by Sitanislei Tei from a quickly taken tapped penalty five metres out.

Lions: Josh Waller, Niko Moa, Chris Cutts, Tom Lewis, Vaha Halaifaunua, Chris Humphrey, Conor Gracey, Tom Gulland, Tom Dougherty, Ben Young, Kaz Henderson, Nico Defeo, Jon Hill, Suva Ma’asi, Semisi Sitanislei Tei. Subs: Alex Ioannou, Jack Lewis, Dan Malem.

Lions chairman Andy Moore with his coach Vili Ma'asi and some of the players. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Lions chairman Andy Moore with his coach Vili Ma'asi and some of the players. Picture: Mick Sutterby