Peterborough Lions’ promotion credentials face another thorough examination this weekend.
The city side made a flying start to their Midlands Premiership campaign, winning their first six fixtures and talk of promotion arrived earlier than usual down in the Lions’ den at Bretton.
But two defeats in the space of their next four games has seen a few doubts surface down at Solstice Park.
There’s certainly a wealth of quality in the Lions side but application is an issue.
Defeats at third-placed Newport (41-21) and at bogey side Scunthorpe (31-15) were fully deserved.
“We were second best on both occasions and there were no complaints over either of those results. The best teams won on the day,” said Lions chairman Andy Moore.
“Newport wanted it more than we did and it was a similar story at Scunthorpe in our last game.
“Everyone knows what this league is like. If you’re not at the races you get left behind.”
Next up is another massive test - at home to Cheshire outfit Sandbach on Saturday (2.15pm) - and Moore added: “We’ll certainly have to make sure we turn up for this one. Sandbach are on fire. Apart from Birmingham - they’re the in-form team in the league.
“Vili (coach Vili Ma’asi) read our boys the riot act after the Scunthorpe game. Hopefully it will have sunk in.”
Sandbach have won their last six games, beating Old Halesonians by a whopping club record margin of 109-0 last time out, and before that they claimed the notable scalps of Nuneaton (15-12) and Newport (26-21).
Their resurgence has had much to do with the acquisition of two new coaches.
Former England hooker Rob Webber takes charge of the forwards and Byron McGuigan, who made his debut for Scotland against the All Blacks on Saturday, is the backs coach. Both play for Sales Sharks in the Premiership.
Last season the Lions won the fixture 39-15.
Borough also have a tough game in the city on Saturday.
They entertain Syston (kick-off 2.15pm) in Midlands Division One (East) hoping to make it six wins on the trot and keep pace with the leaders.
It won’t be easy though. Syston were paying National League Three rugby last season and are second in the table.
Both sides will be looking for a big improvement on their last outings two weeks ago.
Borough were well below par in a 27-14 win at Wellingborough while Syston lacked their usual spark in a 19-14 win at home to Paviors.
Borough should have Micky Watts, Ben Higton, Mooki Tshepo-Olebile and Reggie Reid back in the squad after missing the Wellingborough game. But George Offer will definitely be out for a while with ankle damage.
Three Borough players were in the East Midlands Under 15 girls team that beat Warwickshire at Market Harborough on Sunday by a massive 76-10 margin.
Jorja Matchwick started the game while Abi Phillips and Vitoria Silva Seide both came off the bench - the latter for her East Midlands debut.
A fourth Borough girl, Jessica Moorfoot, was rested but has been told she’s playing in the East Midlands match next month.
ON INTERNATIONAL DUTY
Popular Peterborough referee Nicola Reynolds was the fourth official at the first women’s England v Canada Test at Allianz Park last Friday.
England won the game 79-5.
Reynolds, a level five referee often seen officiating at Borough games down at Fengate, works part-time for the RFU is a referee educator.
Nine years ago she was touch judge for the England v Scotland game in the Women’s Six Nations.