Bourne begin the new year with a bang
Bourne started the new year with a bang when they defeated fellow Midlands 4 East (South) title challengers Wellingborough Old Grammarians on Saturday.
Having under-performed in the away leg, a strong Bourne side made amends with a terrific 30-8 success to cement their grip on second spot.
Wellingborough came out of the blocks first and the opening minutes saw the home side under huge pressure.
Missed tackles allowed the visitors the opportunity to move forward and a string of phases eventually led to a penalty and, with this converted, Bourne found themselves behind right from the start.
Bourne considered the slim lead a let-off and from the restart started to build their own pressure.
With the wind behind them the hosts positioned themselves in their opponents half and enjoyed some decent possession.
Solid defence from Wellingborough and a number of mistakes with the ball in hand held Bourne back.
Several scoring opportunities seemed to be going begging until player-coach Dave Maudsley floated a sublime pass over the heads of the visiting backline into the path of the oncoming wing Josh Lynch who ran in untroubled for the first score of the day.
With the normally reliable Sam Evison unable to convert from the touchline the score remained 5-3.
From the restart Bourne quickly found themselves in a good position and, with their defence rectified, they kept Wellingborough pinned in their own half.
Some particularly good defence from the centre pairing of Sam Harby and JD Charlton led to a fumble by Wellingborough and Harby was the first to react, kicking the ball towards the try line before beating his opposite man to touch down and extend the lead.
With Evison converting Bourne seemed to be growing into the game.
The Bourne pack have been getting better and better as the season has progressed and, while they did enough to win their own line-out and occassionally disrupt their opponents ball, it was scrum-time where they utterly dominated and this proved a useful platform for the backs.
A short while later it was the backs once again taking the glory as Maudsley found Lynch after a well-executed back move.
With plenty still to do though Lynch made light work of beating four men to cross once again.
With a dificult wind blowing, Evison failed to add the extras and Bourne turned round at half-time 17-3 up.
Although conditions had taken a turn for the worse Bourne were seemingly in control at the start of the second half and started where they had left off with Wellingborough pinned to their own line.
A lot of good work was undone though when hooker Harry Thornburn let his discipline slip as he needlessly put in a late tackle on the Wellingborough fly-half.
Thornburn received a yellow card and Wellingborough relieved the pressure clearing the resulting penalty into the Bourne half.
Bourne were soon back where they wanted to be and, with second row Andrew Brown covering at hooker and centre Harby once again covering the second row, the forwards dominated scrums and breakdowns, so much so that under the pressure Wellingborough gave away a string of penalties and eventually lost one of their own to the sin-bin.
Sensing an opportunity skipper Tom Dixon continued to call scrum at each penalty awarded and the Bourne pack received their reward with a push-over try from five metres out, although it was stolen at the line by scrum-half Evison whose name ended up on the scoresheet. Having an off day with the boot though Evison failed to convert.
Evison made amends a short while later with a penalty to keep the scoreboard ticking over and, with 20 minutes to go, Bourne were 25-3 up and clearly looking to rack up the points.
The next try for the home side was a solid team effort involving almost the entire team.
Having recycled numerous phases and dragged their opposition from one side to the other the ball was shipped once more to the far side of the pitch where veteran second row Anthony Cooke fed winger JJ Roberts with one man to beat.
Roberts was unable to beat his man and it looked as though the Bourne move had come to an end until Cooke appeared outside Roberts and, having had the foresight to loop once he’d given the pass, he crossed in the corner for arguably the try of the day.
At 30-3 Bourne were cruising until they found themselves on the wrong side of the referee and the final 15 minutes proved difficult as time and time again they gave away penalties in key areas of the pitch.
Bourne seemed genuinely confused by the sudden barrage of penalties but Wellingborough were energised by this and started to build some real momentum.
The Wellingborough fly-half seemed to have squandered an opportuity when in open play he kicked with a clear overlap, but luck went against Bourne when the ball was gathered by the visiting winger who appeared to have initially been in front and he went onto score.
With ten minutes left and the the rub of the green seemingly being destined to be with the visitors for the remainder of the game there was concern among the Bourne side that they could be in trouble.
And Wellingborough certainly seemed to feel they might clutch a miracle win as they came straight back at their hosts from the restart.
It wasn’t to be though as Bourne showed they also had the measure of their opponents in defense as well.
Solid tackling around the breakdown and some heroic last ditch tackling repeatedly sent the Wellingborough attackers back and, although they came back harder each time, Bourne were happy to match their physicality and clearly were not willing to concede another try.
Bourne: Appleby, H Thornburn, Greenwood, Brown, Cooke, Smith, Williams, Dixon, Evison, Maudsley, Lagdon, Harby, Charlton, Lynch, Berry, C Wheeler, J Wheeler, S Thornburn, M Holden, Roberts.