It’s been a great afternoon (October 29) for Peterborough rugby with both city sides enjoying fine wins in the English Clubs Championship.
The Lions entertained National League Division Three leaders Sheffield and pulled off a fantastic 17-13 win against all the odds at Bretton Park while Borough crushed Midlands East Division Two (South) basement boys Vipers 78-15.
The big Borough win was in all honesty expected but the Lions triumph most certainly was not.
Darren Fox’s struggling side had only won once in seven attempts this season and went into today’s clash against the high-flying Yorkshiremen with a side heavily depleted by injury.
But they had the visitors rattled from the word go with their abrasive style of play and their tough, physical no-nonsense defending.
There was little between the two teams in a first half confined mostly to the middle of the park and it finished 3-3. Neither side really managed to carve out a try-scoring opportunity.
Will Carrington, who was a sound midfield general for the Lions all afternoon, kicked their penalty in the first minute after an eye-catching surge by Marius Andrijauskas and Sheffield levelled with the last kick of the half.
Sheffield flew out of the blocks in the second half and after three minutes of intense pressure they hit the front at 6-3 with a second penalty.
But within a couple of minutes the Lions were back in front. A brave, bulldozing charge by outstanding prop Ben Howard saw him offload to Carrington a couple of yards out and the ball was shipped smartly to flanker Tom Gulland, who nipped in to score a try which Carrington converted to make it 10-6 to the Lions.
For the next half-an-hour though it was all Sheffield. They stepped on the gas and tried every trick in the book to reduce the deficit. But they came up against a stubborn Lions defence. Chris Humphrey and Andrijauskas led the big hitting and Sheffield were kept at bay.
Eventually, in the 77th minute, and with the Lions down to 14 men following the sin-binning of Carrington, they managed to penetrate and a converted try saw them edge ahead at 13-10 with time running out.
Three minutes later from a rare foray into the Sheffield half the Lions snatched a winning try.
Defeo started the move on halfway and Humphrey (twice), Levan Stapleton, Sam Crooks and Gulland all made further progress upfield before Defeo finally delivered the scoring pass to winger Arturius Balcunius five yards out. He stormed in under the posts and a conversion by Tom Lewis made it 17-13.
In eight minutes of time added on by the referee, Sheffield bombarded the Lions line but once again they defended heroically.
“I couldn’t watch those last few minutes,” said Lions chairman Andy Moore. “So many times this season I’ve seen us snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the closing stages. I couldn’t take it today.
“But this time we held on for what was a brilliant victory. We’ve shown today that we are still a force in this league. I’m delighted for the lads.
“And we’ve done it with a massively under-strength team so all credit to everyone concerned.”
And the Lions achieved victory despite having three players yellow carded - Crooks in the first half and Carrington and Kaz Henderson in the second half.
Borough meanwhile scored 14 tries against their lowly opponents from Leicester.
Leading the way with hat-tricks were full-back Danish Tomoliunas and centre Michael Bean. Wingers Chris Sansby and Stefan Gallucci and centre Joe Andresen all bagged two tries with other touchdowns coming from Johnny Beale and Tom Williams. Conversions were kicked by Williams (2), Andresen and Tomoliunas.
Borough vice-chairman Archie Bennett said: “We were simply far too good for them out wide - you can see that by who scored the tries.”
Oundle were also big winners in Midlands East Division Two (South) today, beating Rushden & Higham 73-5, but Stamford were 34-5 losers at Olney.
Borough have gone second in the table, just a point behind Luton.
Spalding lost 60-10 at Melbourne in Midlands East Division Two (North)