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Head coach Pountney hails Lions after thrilling draw
DIRECTOR of rugby Budge Pountney hailed his whole squad after emerging from a topsy-turvy clash at Shelford with a 26-26 draw.
Lions fought back from an 11-point deficit to take a slender second-half lead in Cambridgeshire, only to be denied victory by Elliot Bale’s penalty four minutes from time.
Pountney admitted his side, who suffered two yellow cards during the first half, had been second best before the interval but praised Shelford’s resilience after watching Bournemouth, freshened up by two replacements, dominate after the restart.
Shelford’s Bale and visiting kicker Jack Metters exchanged points early on but the hosts took charge with tries from Charles Baker and Feofaaku Lea.
However, Sam Hardcastle was on hand to cut the arrears on the stroke of half-time with Metters’s conversion ensuring Pountney’s men went into the break just four points adrift.
Hardcastle added what appeared to be the match-winner seven minutes from the end before Bale’s late intervention.
Pountney praised Lions’ replacements for digging deep before backing Shelford, who finished fifth in National Two South last season, for another strong campaign.
He told the Daily Echo: “The two halves were completely contrasting but credit must go to the players because we could have come away with the win in the end.
“We made mistakes in the first half and, as expected, Shelford capitalised. Our four-point deficit at half-time wasn’t a true reflection of the first half. They were the better side.
“But we always knew it would be a squad game because of the distance, and the replacements had a real impact. All of the players put in everything they could and while we didn’t play as much rugby as I would have liked, the second half was much better.”
Lions: Metters, Westcott, K Lynch (McGowan, 62), Chislett, Sutherland, Drake, Hardcastle, Spikings (Burns, 53), Wilford, Manning, Fuller (Hennings, h-t), Graesser, Hart (Hughes, h-t), Atkinson, Booth (Rees, 44).