They might have a small squadbut all the Lions have big hearts

Peterborough Lions are the in-form team in National League Division Three.

Thursday, 19th January 2017, 2:58 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th January 2017, 3:02 pm
Tom Gulland is cheered off the pitch after playing his last game for the Lions before flying off to new Zealand. Picture: Mick Sutterby

The city side made it eight wins and a draw from their last 10 games when stunning league leaders Nuneaton 20-13 in a bruising Bretton Park battle on Saturday.

It shows they can compete - and in most cases beat - top opposition at this level.

Yet the ‘remarkable’ thing is they’re achieving it with the tiniest of squads.

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Marius Andrijauskas in possession for the Lions against Nuneaton. Picture: Mick Sutterby

There were 18 heroes on the pitch on Saturday - all of them playing a significant part in a famous victory - but you could count other squad members not involved on one hand.

“We must have the smallest squad in the division,” said head coach Darren Fox.

“Unlike most of the sides, we don’t run a second team and it’s remarkable really we’re getting the results we are.

“That’s all down to the attitude and commitment of the lads. They work hard for each other and they all want to improve.

Adrian Enwright makes a great tackle for the Lions against Nuneaton. Picture: Mick Sutterby

“After a win like Saturday it world be easy to rest on our laurels. But the boys always want to improve on their performances.

“Every week they seem to up their physicality and their aggressiveness so we can play high-tempo rugby.

“And it also helps when they have a great leader on the pitch.

“Chris Humphrey was superb on Saturday. He really got the bit between his teeth and led by example with some huge hits.”

Nico Defeo on the attack for Lions against Nuneaton. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Two of his major allies - second row Sam Crooks and number eight Tom Gulland - won’t be around to lend a hand when the Lions visit Old Halesonians for another toughie this Saturday.

Gulland has gone off to play in New Zealand for at least six months while Crooks will be out for a few weeks with an ankle injury.

“That’s the trouble when you operate with a small squad. You get a good run going and then you pick up injuries or players move on and the alarm bells start ringing,” said Fox.

“But I’m used to it. It’s always been like that ever since I got here. We’ll cope.

Ben Howard gets ready to charge for the Lions against Nuneaton. Picture: Mick Sutterby

“Tom going is a massive loss and losing Sam is a bad blow. But I’ve got a couple of new players on the horizon and Jonathan Hill, George Offer and Pete Kolakowski are all close to a return after injury.”

Fox scored his side’s only try on Saturday with the rest of the points coming from Will Carrington (3 penalties) and Adrian Enwright (2 drop-goals).

Chairman Andy Moore was whooping with delight after the win, which came against a side who’d thumped them 53-0 in the Midlands back in September.

“Fantastic, absolutely fantastic,” he said. “That was a magnificent performance - our best game of the season by far.

“Nuneaton came here with a reputation for being tough up front - but we were tougher.

“It was a superb result in front of a big crowd. I couldn’t be happier.”

Marius Andrijauskas in possession for the Lions against Nuneaton. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Lions team v Nuneaton: Josh Waller, Jack Lewis, Ben Howard, Sam Crooks, Marius Andrijauskas, Darren Fox, Chris Humphrey, Tom Gulland, Tom Dougherty, Nico Defeo, Kaz Henderson, Tom Lewis, Will Carrington, Adrian Enwright, Alanus Alasauskas. Subs used: Conor Crown, Artur Balcunius, Alex Ioannou.

Adrian Enwright makes a great tackle for the Lions against Nuneaton. Picture: Mick Sutterby
Nico Defeo on the attack for Lions against Nuneaton. Picture: Mick Sutterby
Ben Howard gets ready to charge for the Lions against Nuneaton. Picture: Mick Sutterby