Pictures by Ray Andrews, report by Dave Rushall
Midlands 1 East
Peterborough 36 Rugby Lions 17
Lions travelled to Peterborough for the latest round of league fixtures hoping to reverse a narrow home defeat earlier in the season, writes Dave Rushall. Unfortunately Lions' injury problems persist, especially in the front row, and with Aiden Parkinson and Alex Tansley picking up knocks in training, the omens were not good, although Tansley did occupy a place on the bench. Guy Field and Martin Wood were also missing so Josh Lockley partnered Callum Hopkin in the back row with Chris Wood at number eight. New signing Tom Ainsley started at prop with Keenan Cooper replacing Field in the second row, and the ever reliable Paul Fowkes at hooker. Lion's pack looked distinctly lightweight compared to the home side’s huge forwards and so it was to prove, especially in the tight.
Lions kicked off with a howling cross-field gale blowing and a chip ahead from Dave Weston almost bounced into the hands of Daniel Parrington but the ball just evaded him. The visitors were looking very sharp with the ball in hand and they were rewarded with a penalty try when Peterborough illegally stopped a driving maul.
The home side responded with a couple of strong scrums near Lions' line before the number eight picked up to score near the uprights to tie the score. Lions were competing well and their handling was more precise than the home side’s in this period, however it was Peterborough with the next score following a quick tap penalty for not releasing. The conversion was blown off course by the gale.
Lions hit back immediately with more lovely handling, and switched the ball right across the field to enable Mike Howes to dive over in the left corner and tie the score at twelve all. With Charlie Paxton forced off with a neck injury, Tansley was brought on despite not being fully fit, and Peterborough were becoming more dominant with their size advantage up front. After a number of phases of play by their pack, the ball was spun down the line for their outside centre to score an easy try. Lions ended the first half on top, but were unable to add to their tally. A very competitive half of rugby with only five points between the teams left the visiting supporters feeling optimistic.
The second half did not start well for Rugby following a chip ahead by the home fly half. Parrington looked favourite to field the bouncing ball five metres out from the try line but he was tackled before he reached the ball, and the supporting Peterborough player gleefully collected and dived over. Somewhat surprisingly the try was awarded.
Another try followed shortly after to put the home side clear, but Rugby were competing equally well in loose play. The scrums were a different matter, and they were being shoved off their own ball virtually every time. An injury to Ainsley meant he had to leave the field and Lions were out of front row players. This meant uncontested scrums, and after consulting with his assessor, the referee deemed Lions were down to 14 players for the rest of the game.
A deft cross field chip by Ricky Aley intended for Parrington was just blown into touch by the wind. Peterborough took a quick throw-in and the gaps opened in Lions' defence to give another score to the home side. Both sides were then down to fourteen players after the Peterborough left wing was shown a yellow card for over-exuberant use of the mouth. Strong drives by the Lions kept the home side pinned on their five metre line, before a quick tap penalty saw Tansley crash over the try line. The ball was deemed to be held up however. From the resulting scrum, the ball was fed to Mike Howes who crossed the line under the posts. The ball was unfortunately judged to have been lost forward in the act of touching down. Lions did however get their just rewards when more poor handling by the home side enabled Kris McFedries to scoot over the line in the left corner. The conversion attempt dropped just under the bar.
Despite the score line, this was a fully committed performance by the Lions, and when they can field a fully fit side they could beat any team in this division.
Next week Lions have another away fixture against West Bridgford for a 2.15pm kick off.