RUGBY

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - YOURTELEGRAPH - By Bob French bob.french@jpress.co.uk

Peter­bor­ough Lions gave it their all but still came up ag­o­nis­ingly short in Satur­day’s big Mid­lands Premier­ship match at Bret­ton.

They pushed Birm­ing­ham all the way but the vis­i­tors to Sol­stice Park were cel­e­brat­ing a ti­tle win after 80 pul­sat­ing min­utes.

They took the hon­ours 2220 in a top-of-the-ta­ble thriller in which for­tunes fluc­tu­ated through­out and they are in­deed wor­thy cham­pi­ons.

Lions chair­man Andy Moore agreed they are a very good side.

“They’re the best but we’re sec­ond best and a very close sec­ond at that,” he said.

“I just hope we’ll be join­ing them in Na­tional League Two next sea­son.”

That is still a dis­tinct pos­si­bil­ity as the Lions re­main in the hunt for run­ners-up spot and a pro­mo­tion play-off place but it’s far from cut and dried.

Lions’ ad­van­tage over third-placed New­port has now been cut to five points and while the Lions have just two games left, New­port have three.

Lions travel to Bournville on Satur­day and then en­ter­tain Bridg­north on April 21 while New­port’s re­main­ing games are Don­caster (away), Long­ton (home) and Birm­ing­ham (away).

“We have to win our last two games that is a fact,” added Moore. “But I reckon now it’s all go­ing to go down to April 28 when New­port go to Birm­ing­ham.”

That wouldn’t have been the case had Nico De­feo slot­ted a last-kick-of-the-game penalty against Birm­ing­ham.

It sailed inches wide and in­stead of four points the Lions had to make do with just one los­ing bonus point.

There was noth­ing to choose be­tween the two sides after the first half. Al­though Birm­ing­ham had much more pos­ses­sion it fin­ished at 7-7 with Ben Young scor­ing the Lions try after a fine 30-yard break by skip­per Chris Humphrey.

Early in the sec­ond half, and with Lions down to 14 men fol­low­ing the sin-binning of Chris Cutts, Birm­ing­ham forged ahead 12-7.

But then the Lions hit a pur­ple patch. First De­feo slot­ted a penalty and then against the run of play Tom Gul­land and Semisi Si­tanislei Tei snatched tries on the coun­ter­at­tack to give the Lions a 20-12 lead with 65 min­utes gone.

But it was a lead they just couldn’t hang on to. First they con­ceded a penalty and then a very late penalty try and the ti­tle race was over.

Lions: Josh Waller, Niko Moa, Chris Cutts, Tom Lewis, Mar­ius An­dri­jauskas, Chris Humphrey, Tom Gul­land, Vaha Halaifanua, Tom Dougherty, Ben Young, Ash­ley Hill, Nico De­feo, Rory White, Kaz Hen­der­son, Semisi Si­tanislei Tei. Subs: Alex Ioan­nou, Jack Lewis, Owain Pearce.

■ In Mid­lands Divi­sion One there was an­other heavy de­feat for Bor­ough.

They went down 74-10 to league lead­ers Bed­ford Ath­letic at Fen­gate and it was their eighth loss on the trot.

Bor­oughvice-chair­manArchie Ben­nett said: “I know the record doesn’t look good but we’ve had a re­ally bad run of de­par­tures (five play­ers went off to Aus­tralia), in­juries and un­avail­abil­ity since Jan­uary.

“Hope­fully we can win our last two games - against Bug­brooke and Hunt­ing­don - and get back to some sort of nor­mal­ity.”

Oun­dle were 37-34 win­ners at home to Hunt­ing­don and had Robb Shin­gles cross for a hat-trick of tries.

■ Bourne are back in ti­tle con­tention in Mid­lands East Divi­sion Four (South).

They thought they’d blown it two weeks ago when los­ing 16-15 to lead­ers St Neots and were con­vinced they would fin­ish run­ners-up.

How­ever, a shock 22-10 de­feat for St Neots at Brack­ley has put Bourne back in con­tention.

They trail St Neots by just two points and both teams have one game left to play on April 21 - Bourne at Thor­ney and St Neots at home to Deepings.

Bourne smashed lo­cal ri­vals Stam­ford Col­lege Old Boys 96-7 on Satur­day with wing Ge­orge Ven­ables and back row Adam Binns both cross­ing for a hat-trick of tries. ■ The Bor­ough men may be strug­gling but the Bor­ough ladies team, coached by Rich Par­sons, are fly­ing.

On Sun­day they beat RFUW Cham­pi­onship Mid­lands North Two lead­ers West Nor­folk 15-7 away and are now in with a great chance of tak­ing the ti­tle.

They need just two points from their two re­main­ing games - away to Coalville on Sun­day (April 15) and away to Mel­lish the fol­low­ing Sun­day (April 22) - to win it.

Sarah Win­der (2) and Michelle Bark scored tries at West Nor­folk. Win­der was voted back-of-the-match with Ver­ity Swin­scoe tak­ing the for­ward-of-the-match award.

Mid­lands Divi­sion Two East (South) Ste­wart & Lloyds ..................................... 29 Stam­ford ................................................... 5

Mid­lands Divi­sion Four East (South) Bed­ford Swifts ......................................... 41 Thor­ney ...................................................... 7

Bourne (tries: Ven­ables 3, Binns 3, Lynch 2, Cas­tle, Green­wood, Brown, Smith, Holden, Cheek. cons: Evi­son 13) ........................... 96 Stam­ford Col­lege Old Boys ......................... 7

Eastern Coun­ties

Cru­saders ................................................ 31 Wis­bech .................................................... 25

WOMEN’S RFUW CHAM­PI­ONSHIP

Mid­lands North Two

West Nor­folk Ladies ................................... 7 Peter­bor­ough Ladies (tries: Bark, Win­der 2) .............................................................. 15

PIC­TURES: MICK SUTTERBY

Try-scorer Tom Gul­land on the at­tack for the Lions against Birm­ing­ham.

Nico De­feo is caught by two Birm­ing­ham play­ers.

Lions skip­per Chris Humphrey is jumped on by Tawanda Chipadza.

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