Cyprus trip for rugby club to play in memorial match
After 34 games during their regular season, Bourne enjoyed a change of scenery after travelling to Cyprus for the second year in succession.
They were guests at the Dhekelia Barracks courtesy of the 2nd Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment, better known as the Poachers.
The main purpose of the tour was the annual fixture between Bourne and the Poachers, played in memory of Private Joseva Lewaicei and Private Adam Morris who tragically passed away while deployed in Iraq in 2006.
The game took place on the Friday morning and was preceded by a memorial service observed by both squads and a large number of spectators.
Despite less than half the touring party being regular senior players the trip, at the end of a very successful season, was considered the club's best opportunity to win the annual fixture.
Eleven members of the Bourne side had been involved in winning the NLD Plate the week before including player coach Dave Maudsley and captain Tom Dixon.
Due to the heat the game kicked off at 11am and was split into four quarters. Despite appearing tired after their journey and some enthusiastic team-bonding the evening before Bourne set their stall out early with wing Matt Holden crossing inside five minutes to take them in front. Centre Luke Govier added the conversion to put Bourne 7-0 ahead.
The Poachers, despite not playing as regularly as the Bourne lads, were clearly fitter and much better acclimatised to the conditions.
Over the second and third quarters they shot ahead to 26 points thanks mostly to a hat-trick from their outside centre, a former Fijian and Army superstar.
But Bourne were far from done and, as they have for much of the season, they threw themselves into a serious comeback.
Towards the end of the third quarter wing Josh Lynch, Bourne's man of the match, crossed after some neat work by the backs and he was followed shortly by prop Jake Appleby after a strong period of play dominated by his team-mates in the pack. Govier added the extras to Appleby's try.
Entering the final quarter at 26-19 down, Bourne looked to have levelled the game when scrum-half JD Charlton appeared to have scored the simplest of tries.
At a five-metre scrum Charlton watched his pack push the Poachers all the way back to their tryline before pouncing on the ball as it crossed the try-line.
Somewhat out of position the referee missed the key moment and after apologising said he had no option but to set another scrum.
A short while later the Bourne backs attacked again from inside the Poachers half. Maudsley, at full-back, joined the line and fed Lynch who made good yards before eventually being pulled down just a yard short of the try-line.
Maudsley, having followed in support, gathered the ball as Lynch set it back and dropped over the line. From the very corner of the pitch Govier couldn't add the conversion.
With just minutes left on the clock Bourne continued to pressure the Poachers but it wasn't to be and they finished an agonising two points short, 26-24.
Tour organiser Jerry King was understandably pleased at the final whistle.
He said: “As always the game was played in fantastic spirit. The lads have had a great season and a win would have been the icing on the cake but the result is almost irrelevant.
“Far more importantly the fixture honours the link between the club and the Poachers and is a tribute to two young men who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Bourne and the Poachers joined forces on the Sunday morning to play the Larnaca Spartans, a side with minimal experience but with some talented individuals among them.
With just 12 men the Spartans were helped by Bourne's Dixon, Maudsley, Appleby and hooker Harry Thornburn filling in at scrum-half.
With some exhibition rugby from both sides, including a man of the match performance from Appleby, the game finished a staggering 51-51 and Maudsley was impressed with the Spartans.
He said: “They have come on a lot since we were here last year. They've clearly been working hard and it's great to see them compete at this sort of standard. The more game time they get together the better they'll become as a side.”
Mehmet Pasha, Spartans player-coach, was thrilled with the result.
He added: “We have some good players but as a side we're clearly less experienced than the guys that play for Bourne or the Poachers.
“To be involved in a game at this level and even more so to compete is great reward for the hard work that's going into the game.
“And typically of rugby the game was only really possible after the Bourne lads came to play for us.”
With the Poachers returning to the UK later in the year the fixture is likely to be played at Milking Nook Drove or possibly at Kendrew Barracks.