Nothing to show for efforts in close game
PICTURES BY RAY ANDREWS
Midlands 1 East
Rugby Lions 17 Peterborough 25
Lions welcomed Peterborough to Webb Ellis Road, and were looking to get back on track following four heavy defeats on the run, writes Dave Rushall.
The early exchanges were a sign of things to come when Rugby were penalised for offside (although the official had his back to the ‘offender’), and crossing when trying to run the ball from their 22. Another offside decision saw the Lions pinned in their own 22, but thanks to some poor line-out work, the scoreboard remained blank. Lions then attacked in front of the clubhouse, and three misdemeanours in quick succession by the visiting number eight, eventually led to a yellow card. Lions’ lineout, in contrast was good, and the ball was shipped down the back line to enable left wing Chris Dixon to touch down for an unconverted try in the corner.
A penalty for not releasing allowed the visitors to reduce the arrears to two points. Another string of penalties awarded against the home side eventually told, and the Peterborough number eight touched down near the uprights for a converted try.
Lions responded well and were rewarded when Martin Wood broke through in the centre of the field, and despite his offload being knocked back by a defender, Charlie Paxton was first to react and dived on the ball for a try, converted by Kris McFedries. In the sixth minute of added time, another penalty against Rugby for not rolling away gave the visitors the chance to go ahead at half time, but the ball drifted wide, to leave the Lions with a slender 12-10 lead.
The trend of Rugby conceding penalties continued in the second half, with seemingly any tackle over waist high being deemed dangerous. With Peterborough pressing the home try line, a couple of forward passes went unnoticed, although the second one dropped into the hands of Daniel Parrington who was two metres from his own try line. He set off down the touch line in front of the shed to score another length of the field try. Defenders prevented him going under the posts, which meant the conversion attempt failed.
With Peterborough attacking, the penalty rate was becoming ridiculous, and the inevitable unconverted try made the score 17-15. Then came the turning point in the game. John Helmsley had come on to replace Guy Field, but was not on the pitch for long as he was shown a yellow card for another extremely harsh high tackle decision. Worse was to follow immediately as Lewis Moult also saw yellow following a supposed trip.
With a two-player advantage, Peterborough took their chance following a one-sided scrum and scored straight away in the corner in front of the clubhouse. The conversion was successful to put the visitors in front by five points.
Daniel Parrington made a great break down the middle of the pitch and looked like he would score, but he was tackled just short. Despite being two men short, Lions were looking dangerous with the ball in hand, and a strong run by Mike Howes was halted when he was tackled and penalised for not releasing.
Yet another tackle from Rugby was deemed high and Peterborough opted to run it from halfway. The ball was knocked on and Lions had the put in at the scrum. Still two men short, the scrum was in retreat, and despite the visiting scrum half clearly coming round offside, the penalty went to Peterborough. They took a quick tap with visiting players in front of the kicker, and reached the 22 before chipping the ball to the corner but the winger knocked on as he tried to collect the ball. Not to worry for the visitors, as the referee came back and awarded them a penalty in front of the posts, presumably for not being ten metres back. The kick was successful to deny even a deserved losing bonus point for the home side.
Three tries to each side, but the deciding factor was the huge penalty count against Rugby.
Next week Lions have another home fixture against West Bridgford for a 3pm kick off.