MATCH REPORT: The Lions are charging towards the play-offs

Lions scrum-half Tom Dougherty roars with delight on the final whistle at Sandbach. Picture: Mick Sutterby
Lions scrum-half Tom Dougherty roars with delight on the final whistle at Sandbach. Picture: Mick Sutterby
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There was another great victory to celebrate for Peterborough Lions this afternoon (March 24) as they kept their brilliant run going in the English Clubs Championship.

They made it 11 wins on the bounce up in Cheshire as they fought back from 17-0 down to beat Sandbach 34-24 and consolidate second poisition in the Midlands Premiership table to remain firmly on course for the promotion play-off spot.

Tom Gulland  runs in for his  first Lions try. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Tom Gulland runs in for his first Lions try. Picture: Mick Sutterby

It was far from plain sailing for Vili Ma’asi’s side though as they suffered the shock of going 17-0 down within the first five minutes.

“We were caught cold. They came at us from the start and nicked a couple of tries - one an interception - and all of a sudden we were up against it,” said Lions chairman Andy Moore.

“But the lads deserve great credit for the way they fought back. We stuck to the gameplan of running the ball wide and it’s great rugby. Teams just can’t cope with it.

“We’re taking nothing for granted. There are still three tough games to go - one a real toughie at home to Birmingham - but we’re beginning to fancy our chances. It could be our year.”

Tom Gulland is on his way to the try-line again. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Tom Gulland is on his way to the try-line again. Picture: Mick Sutterby

After conceding those two early tries plus a penalty, the Lions first got on the scoresheet in the 10th minute when centre Rory White blasted in for a try converted by Nico Defeo.

Vaha Halaifanua then smashed his way over on 18 minutes to reduce the deficit to 17-12 and on the half-hour mark it was the Lions leading after Tom Gulland went on a lovely run before touching down for Defeo to convert.

Sandbach came back fighting and scored their third converted try just before the break to lead 24-19 at the turaround.

The Lions were soon back on level terms though. Ten minutes into the second half and after a long spell of pressure on the Sandbach line, winger Ashley Hill ran in the fourth Lions touchdown to secure the bonus point and make it 24-24.

Vaha Halaifanua scores the Lions second try. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Vaha Halaifanua scores the Lions second try. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Five minutes later and Hill outpaced the Sandbach defence from 20 metres out to add his second try and Lions fifth and then towards the end Gulland scored a beauty to wrap things up. He set off on a darting run from 30 metres out and smartly stepped inside three defenders at the end of it to crown a fine individual display.

Lions’ closest rivals Newport were 37-28 winners at Bridgnorth and they are seven points behind the Lions with a game in hand.

In Midlands Division One there was a crushing defeat for Borough at title-chasing Syston. They were hammered 84-5 which was their heaviest defeat of the season and their seventh consecutive loss.

They remain sixth in the table while Syston are second, a point behind Bedford Athletic.

Lions players celebrate Tom Gulland's second try. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Lions players celebrate Tom Gulland's second try. Picture: Mick Sutterby