Derby welcomed Martin Kent, Louis Hicks and Jake Roome back to the starting XV and were forced to make a change after the warm up, when Jack Dawson felt his hamstring and dropped out. Ollie Saffell replaced him at centre.
It was 2nd place Peterborough Lions who kicked off at a cold and damp Haslams. It was in fact so cold, that the pitch had to survive a pre match inspection, due to a number of hard patches. The game that followed certainly warmed the day up !
Peterborough Lions were soon into their stride and only solid Derby defence kept them out, but the pressure told and a converted try after 10 minutes took them into the lead.
Peterborough Lions continued to dominate and the game reached the 20 minute mark, with Derby having had little meaningful possession. Try as they might, the powerful Peterborough Lions’ side were unable to add to their early score, with ferocious Derby tackling stopping them in their tracks.
Gradually, Derby started to gain a foothold in the game and spent the final 10 minutes of the half pressing in the Derby 22. They were unable to create a clear cut chance, although at least 1 kickable penalty was turned down in favour of a lineout in the corner.
Half time saw the score still 7 – 0 to Peterborough Lions, but a pleasing end to the half had given Derby hope. They needed to start the 2nd half the way they ended the 1st !
What a start they made ! George Castledine made a break. Luke Willmott and McGrath Van Wyk were prominent as the ball was switched wide, where Ollie Saffell beat the last man and scored his 4th try of the season.
In the build-up, both George Castledine and Martin Kent were injured. George Castledine was able to continue, but Martin Kent had to leave with a suspected broken arm.
Peterborough Lions almost hit back immediately, with a tremendous forward drive, but Derby were able to repel them.
20 minutes into the half, George Castledine was just short with a penalty, but 4 minutes later, cleared the bar to give Derby a 1 point lead.
Unfortunately, the lead was to last just 4 minutes, when a series of forward drives breached the Derby defence and allowed Peterborough Lions to score a converted try.
Derby continued to press and forced Peterborough Lions to concede a number of penalties, which eventually led to a yellow card for their prop.
A number of penalties were kicked to the corner, the resulting lineouts were won, but Derby could not find their way over the try line for the winning score.
The final whistle was greeted with a celebratory roar from the Peterborough players, which was a mark of a superb Derby performance. Last time Peterborough Lions played at Haslams, in April, they won 48 – 18. What an improvement in 9 months !
Derby pick up a thoroughly deserved league point; it could so easily have been more !
The Christmas break sees a well-deserved rest for the players, before they resume against Sandbach on January 6th.
Come on Derby !
Match Report by Richard Bambra
Photographs of the Derby v Peterborough Lions game can be viewed the e4creative photography website.