Player-coach Dave Maudsley was proud of his players despite the biggest day in Bourne Rugby Club’s history ending in defeat on Saturday.
Maudsley’s men went down to a 13-27 defeat against Eccleshall in their Midlands Junior Vase final match at Milking Nook Drove.
Despite being disappointed to lose the final to their table-topping Midlands 4 West (North) visitors, Maudsley’s remained upbeat about his side’s achievements this season.
He said: “I’m disappointed to be on the wrong side of the result but moreso becuase I don’t believe we were at our best.
“All credit to Eccleshall though. They were a good side and considerably better than us on the day.
“Eccleshall seemed fitter than us and they were well drilled and, although we matched them for parts of the game, they always looked the side most likely to score points.
“Regardless of the result we’ve had a great season and I couldn’t be more proud of the lads.
“They’re growing as a side and they’re growing as individuals, both as rugby players and young men, and I consider myself very lucky to be involved with them.”
After their efforts the previous weekend in thrashing local rivals Deepings, Bourne came back down to earth with a bump.
Despite atrocious conditions the game was well attended and the crowd was by some margin the biggest ever seen at Milking Nook Drove. Sadly, despite Bourne’s best efforts, the club didn’t get the fairytale ending they had hoped for.
Choosing to play against the wind in the first half Bourne’s approach was to soak up as much presssure as necessary for the first 40 minutes.
From the kick-off Bourne looked comfortable and strung together a number of decent phases.
Eccleshall looked to be lethargic after their long journey but were relatively solid in defence and eventually got their hands on the ball.
The visitors came to life at this point and it was quickly evident that they had a number of talented players.
Effective at the breakdown and dynamic around the park, Eccleshall soon made inroads into the Bourne half.
A short while later they turned their possession and territory into points and crossed for their first try. A long way out Eccleshall were able to add the conversion.
From the restart Eccleshall once again began to dominate the game and Bourne were starved of the ball.
Although they were doing just enough to cope defensively Bourne had little chance to attack and were met well by a well-drilled Eccleshall defence.
It was the Eccleshall attack that seemed to be the difference though and they made good yards with the ball in hand.
They made particularly good ground with a very useful rolling maul and repeatedly marched Bourne backwards from the line-outs. After a sustained period of attack Eccleshall crossed again to double their lead.
The final 10 minutes of the first half was played in the worst conditions seen at Milking Nook Drove with a snow blizzard blowing right into the faces of the Bourne side.
Despite this Eccleshall were unable to capitalise and Bourne saw out the first half trailing by just 10 points.
The message at half-time from player-coach Maudsley was clear - Bourne had the advantage of the wind in the second half and they were well in the game.
This certainly appeared to be the case when Bourne scored the try of the day within five minutes of the second half.
With the wind behind them Bourne quickly found themselves in the Eccleshall half and seemed to be finding the sort of form the club has been used to seeing.
Holding their own at the scrum the forwards also started to show some mobility around the pitch and with some good recycling of the ball they managed to put together a number of phases.
With their first real momentum of the game Bourne utilised their entire side in a well worked team try finished by second row Andrew Brown. Sam Evison narrowly missed the difficult conversion.
Minutes later Bourne were awarded a penalty and Evison was on target, taking his side to just 10-8 down.
Sadly for the home side this was as close as they got to clinching the game. The conditions weren’t nearly as bad in the second half which allowed the Eccleshall backs to do far more damage than their Bourne counterparts had managed in the first half.
The Bourne side were dragged around the pitch by some clever play by the Eccleshall fly-half who mixed up use of his pack with some good distributuon and kicking.
Bourne tired quickly and there were question marks over how much their impressive win the week before had taken out of them.
During the largest part of the second half, including a 10 minute spell where the home side were without full-back Jack Berry - sinbinned for a high tackle - Eccleshall added a further three tries and a conversion.
Although there was a reasonable amount of time left it was clear that Bourne were going to lose to a better side.
Impressively though Bourne never gave up hope and, although it proved too little too late, they picked up their effort in the final minutes and were rewarded with another well worked team try.
Replacement second row George Lindley had made a good impact upon taking to the field and rounded off his performance by crossing for his first try for the club.
Lindley’s try proved to be the final play of the game and, although Bourne finished strongly, the final whistle ended a tough afternoon for the club’s players and spectators.
Sam Thornburn, after a long lay-off through injury, put in an inspirational performance and was named man of the match.
Captain Tom Dixon, who also had a good game, was full of praise for Thornburn.
He said: “Sam’s a very talented player - he’s incredibly strong but he’s also quick and that’s a combination that makes life hard for opponents.”
Bourne squad: J Appleby, H Thornburn, C Greenwood, S Harby, A Brown, S Williams, A Binns, T Dixon, S Evison, D Castle, J Lynch, D Maudsley, S Thornburn, R Bentley, J Berry, C Wheeler, P Mambey, A Cooke, G Lindley, D Smith, J Lagdon, JD Charlton.