Peterborough’s rugby matched the weather this afternoon (March 5) as the two city sides suffered miserable defeats in the English Clubs Championship.
The Lions were beaten 19-7 by Birmingham in a tough, physical National League Division Three encounter at Bretton Park while over at Fengate, Borough lost to Midlands Division Two East visitors Vipers 13-3.
The Lions pipped Birmingham 22-17 earlier in the season in Birmingham but since then the former first-class Midlands club have invested in a handful of new players who have improved their side dramatically.
“They’re building for a promotion push for next season and they looked a very powerful side today,” said Lions chairman Andy Moore.
“They’re used to playing at a much higher level and are obviously keen to move back up. They had a very strong set of forwards out there today and played to their strengths.
“They kept it tight and the conditions suited their style of play. But, although confined to the forwards, it was still a good game to watch and I thought we competed well against them, especially in the second half.”
The first half began brightly for the Lions with promising forays from fit-again full back De La Rey Veenendaal, Cambridge loanee Pete Kolakowski and rapidly improving winger Kaz Henderson.
But the sweet spell was very short.
With just nine minutes on the clock Birmingham took the lead from their first venture into the Lions 22. They won a lineout 15 yards out and one of their second row giants powered over for the touchdown. The successful conversion made it 7-0 and that’s how it stayed until half-time with the Lions struggling to gain possession.
Coach Darren Fox reshuffled his front row for the second half of the bruising battle and the Lions gradually began to assert some authority.
On the hour mark and after a 10-minute bombardment of the Birmingham line they were awarded a penalty try after some great scrummaging and Will Carrington’s conversion levelled it up at 7-7.
But Birmingham also had a tasty stand-off and his solo chip-and-run try, which was also converted, had them back in front at 14-7 with eight minutes left.
The Lions didn’t look like scoring again but were hanging on for the losing bonus point. Unfortunately with the last play of the game they lost that as well as Birmingham crossed for a third try in the 82nd minute.
Just before that there was more disappointment for Lions as Marius Andrijauskas was red-carded for eye gouging. His season could well now be over.
It was the same old story for Borough against Vipers. They had all the pressure in the first half but lacked the bulk to get over the line and all they managed during a wind-assisted first period was a Harry Roe penalty.
In the second half they looked even less like scoring against the elements and Vipers stole the points with two tries and a penalty.
Tom Downer provided one of few plus points for Borough by making a solid debut on the wing.