Peterborough Lions are certainly playing much better . . . but desperately need a change of luck to survive at National League Two level.
They entertained table-toppers Hull Ionians at Solstice Park, Bretton, on Saturday and turned in a gutsy performance, dominating for long spells in the second half.
But picking up a red card after half-an-hour almost certainly cost them what would have been a huge upset win in the top versus bottom clash and they ended up losing 2515.
They were reduced to 14 men when centre Suva Ma’asi, son of coach Vili, was dismissed for a high tackle. Most in the Lions camp felt it ws an extremely harsh decision given that a Hull player who committed a similar offence earlier escaped without punishment.
“That was not a score that reflected the game,” insisted Lions chairman Andy Moore. “It was a great effort on our part. We’ve given the best team in the league a real run for their money with 14 men. The red card was a harsh decision and without it I’m sure we’d have got something from the game. I’m gutted.
“We worked so hard but we’re just not getting the rub of the green. We definitely de- served a losing bonus point if nothing else.
“We’ve shown we can compete against the best in the league, now we just need decisions to start going our way for once.
“Hopefully this performance and the encouraging displays in the run-up to Christmas will be the springboard to better results.”
The Lions didn’t start that well and found themeselves 17-0 down before getting out of their own half.
But the sending-off stirred them into action. They dug deep and fought back with tries by Jack Askham and Tom Gulland and it was 20-15 going into the final quarter.
But despite bossing the closing stages the Lions couldn’t get the ball over the line and Hull scored a breakaway try on the final whistle to deny the Lions what would have been a well deserved losing bonus point.
On the plus side for the Lions, Kaz Henderson made a welcome return to the fold after three months out with a broken leg and there was a very impressive home debut by Fijian winger Sonoma Veikune, a real powerhouse from the Army.
This Saturday it’s off to the West Midlands and a game against Stourbridge - a team who have lost four of their last five games including a 40-24 loss at Tynedale at the weekend.
Stourbridge took the honours 36-7 at Bretton back in September when the Lions were still finding their feet at the new level.
Kaz Henderson makes a smother tackle on a Hull Ionians player on his return to the Lions side after injury.