There was no fairytale ending for Peterborough Lions on the final day of the English Clubs Championship season this afternoon (April 18).
The city side were unable to crown their first campaign at National League level with the victory that would have secured a promotion play-off spot.
They travelled to Hinckley for a winner-takes-all finale and were well beaten 42-10 by a very big and very efficient Leicestershire outfit.
The result means Hinckley finish runners-up to near neighbours South Leicester in National League Division Three with the Lions coming home a proud third, seven points behind Hinckley.
“I’m happy with third place - that’s a fantastic achievement in our first season in the National League,” said Lions chairman Andy Moore.
“Of course I’m disappointed with what happened today but I have no complaints. Hinckley ruled the roost.
“They had a massive pack and we couldn’t live with them up front. Our backs just couldn’t get into the game.
“Hinckley had a gameplan and it worked a treat. They did a job on us and fair play to them, they deserved to win.
“Our players may not have performed very well today but our fans certainly did. We had lots of support. About half the crowd were from the Lions and they were fantastic.
“At the end of the day Peterborough Lions were today involved in the biggest game in the history of rugby in Peterborough.
“And we’ll be coming back from this to smash this league next year, you wait and see.”
The afternoon started badly for the Lions when skipper and star flanker Chris Humphrey was ruled out in the warm-up after aggravating a foot injury he picked up last weekend.
Then Hinckley proceeded to dominate the first 20 minutes of a bruising battle in the Leicester Road sunshine.
Every time they won possession they kicked for the corners and from there turned up the heat with powerful rolling mauls.
And three times it was a tactic which reaped rich, try-scoring rewards.
So with 20 minutes gone it was 23-0 to the home side and the Lions had a mountain to climb.
And they gave it a good go. Player/coach Darren Fox asked for more and Wade Schoeman and Saad Sait certainly delivered with a barrage of blockbusting bursts.
Eventually - with 10 minutes of the second half gone - the big effort produced points. First Will Carrington bashed over a penalty and then converted a lovely try by Reggie Reid after some fine running by the backs, and in particular Duncan Low.
But that really was as good as it got for the Lions. There was a bit more huffing and puffing but it was all to no avail.
Hinckley’s big, beefy forwards then decided to re-assert their authority and in the last 10 minutes paved the way for another three tries to emerge worthy winners.