Bourne and Huntingdon share the spoils in Midlands 3 East (South) clash
Bourne continue to grow with every game after sharing the spoils with Huntingdon in Midlands 3 East (South) on Saturday.
Their visitors have fallen two leagues in two seasons and had a busy pre-season preparing themselves to bounce back into Midlands Two.
Their away trip to Bourne, still relatively new to Midlands Three, would undoubtedly have been a game they targeted to take maximum points.
But Bourne have started this season in a similar vein to the form that saw them avoid relegation through the back half of last season.
With new additions bolstering the squad they are a force to be reckoned with, particularly at home.
Saturday's league encounter proved to be as tough a test as Bourne had anticipated but they were clearly up for the game and matched their guests in every department.
The game was deadlocked for the opening 10 minutes with the defence from both sides meaning little territory was given away.
The Bourne pack, lighter by some margin, matched Huntingdon at the setpiece but looked the more dynamic round the park.
Prop Chris Greenwood carried on his form from the previous week and second row Sam Harby was heavily involved carrying the ball forward.
Bourne looked to have suffered a blow on the 10-minute mark when influential number eight Tom Dixon was caught by a swinging elbow and looked to have suffered a broken nose.
But the home side were not phased and the game carried on, the physicality of both sides being the notable theme.
On the half-hour mark Bourne's persistence paid off and they won a penalty at the breakdown as the bigger Huntingdon pack seemed to be tiring.
Replacement skipper, centre Sam Evison, kicked a relatively difficult penalty to take his side three points ahead as they headed into the final ten minutes of the half.
From the restart Bourne looked to put their stamp on the game and quickly forced a line-out inside the Huntingdon 22.
With the line-out in the right-hand corner the ball was fed to the backs by scrum-half JJ Roberts and quickly shipped down the backline.
Wing Josh Lynch took the ball on the 22 line and feigned to go inside his man before stepping outside him and leaving him wrong-footed as he cruised to the line. Evison couldn't add the extras but Bourne looked worthy of their lead on the verge of half-time.
Huntingdon did find time to add a penalty of their own after a Bourne infringement and the sides turned round at half-time with the game nicely poised.
Not long into the second half Bourne looked to force their domination on the game.
With undoubtedly the play of the day the entire Bourne side were utilised in a number of phases that saw them start in their own half and work their way into the Huntingdon 22.
Back-row Adam Binns was involved a number of times reflecting a good afternoon's work and he was well supported by a determined Bourne pack.
It was the backs who took the glory though as the ball found its way to full-back Jack Berry who dealt with a difficult pass and did well to ship it on to centre Sam Thornburn.
Thornburn looked to have nowhere to go but showed incredibly strength to beat two men before also showing how agile he can be as he beat another two defenders to dot down. Evison added the kick and Bourne looked comfortable at 15-3 up.
Huntingdon weren't giving up though and enjoyed a greater share of possession and territory in the final quarter, aided by a slight advantage in the conditions.
But, as well as they attacked, there was no getting away from their first try of the day coming from a piece of fortune rather than skill.
As several had before, an attacking phase by Huntingdon seemed to have come to an end with a handling error just inside the Bourne 22.
But the visitors were the quicker to react as the match official called to play on having felt the ball went forward off a Huntingdon foot.
There was mutual respect between the sides when the Huntingdon players immediately apologised for the mistake but the try was allowed to stand. Huntingdon missed the conversion and Bourne remained in front.
Bourne's misfortune played on their minds in the final 15 minutes of the game and they found the momentum very much favouring their guests.
A number of penalties went against the hosts and back-row Dan Smith was eventually yellow-carded meaning Bourne played the final 10 minutes a man down.
As a number of penalties continued to go against them Bourne lost their structure and conceded again.
Some good work by Huntingdon saw them attacking down the left flank but this seemed to have been ended when Lynch made a fantastic cover tackle.
Although the move continued it looked as though the Bourne cover defence, bought time by Lynch's intervention, were in position to end it completely but a number of weak attempts to tackle Huntingdon's last man saw him cross for another try.
Unfortunately for Bourne the conversion was added and suddenly the game was at a stalemate once again.
Despite being at a numerical disadvantage as Huntingdon looked inspired in the final few minutes, Bourne rallied and put in a resilient defensive effort.
As the final whistle was blown it was evident that Huntingdon were the happier of the two sides having grabbed something from nothing as Bourne player-coach Andrew Brown tried to remain positive after the game.
He said: “We were gutted that we didn't see the game out and take maximum points, particularly having played so well for an hour, but at the end of the day we didn't lose.
“There were lots of positives to take from the game and above all it's another indication that we can compete at this level and possibly higher.”
Bourne back-row Gary Farrell shared the man of the match spoils with Greenwood.
He added: "It's disappointing to lose after taking a decent lead but games won't always go our way, no matter how well we play.
“We have to realise that we will make mistakes, decisions will go against us, and we'll also play sides considered to be better than us - all we can do is keep our heads and try to keep playing at our best.”