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Berry bags hat-trick haul to help Maudsley's men move off the foot of the table




Bourne Rugby Club were celebrating back-to-back wins in Midlands 3 East (South) for the first time in their history after a 31-3 victory at Birstall on Saturday.

Since promotion last season the club has found life tough but, having battled through the first half of the season, the evidence suggests they could yet survive relegation.

The side have now won five games which is more than a number of the teams above them and Saturday's success sees them shift off the bottom of the league table for the first time since the early stages of the campaign.

Prior to the weekend Birstall had been sitting in relative comfort in the middle of the table and might have felt confident going into the game after their earlier meeting at Bourne when they took the spoils 27-11.

Bourne, however, had been missing players at the first fixture and in contrast fielded their best side of the season for the return match, the only notable absentee being captain Tom Dixon who is still sidelined with an ankle injury.

Scrum-half Sam Evison took control of the game. (6798777)
Scrum-half Sam Evison took control of the game. (6798777)

Confident after starting the year with a good first half at Stamford, and their recent win over Biggleswade, Bourne started the brighter of the two sides.

The pack hit the ground running and Sam Evison, back at scrum-half, took control of the game by encouraging his forwards to play at a tempo their hosts simply couldn't cope with.

Caught off guard Birstall were found wanting in defence and it took everything they had to halt the Bourne ball carriers.

Eventually though the home defence was stretched too far and almost the entire Bourne side was involved in in a neat passage of play that led to full-back Jack Berry crossing in the corner to give his side a head-start. Despite kicking into a significant wind Evison added the conversion.

Birstall shook off their slow start and after regaining possession not long after the restart they made inroads into the Bourne 22.

After stringing together some phases Birstall had created enough pressure to win a penalty which they duly kicked to get themselves off the mark.

Bourne clearly weren't phased by conceding points and set about building their lead. Centre Sam Thornburn, starting his first game in several months, looked dangerous with the ball in hand and he linked well with Josh Lynch who also looked lively in attack.

It was Lynch that set the foundation for Bourne's next points as he made a break down the touchline. Several attempts by the Birstall defence weren't enough to stop Lynch initially but he was eventually brought down just inside the home 22.

Having followed Lynch all the way prop Jake Appleby was on hand to secure the ensuing ruck and he was quickly joined by the Bourne support visibly energised at having so much front-foot ball.

With Birstall scrambling to form any sort of defensive line Berry moved to first receiver and was quick to spot a gap which he glided through untroubled to score his second of the day. Evison was on target once again.

The first 30 minutes was dominated by Bourne attacks, coming from all aspects of the game.

With a fantastic platform provided by the tight-five the back row of Adam Binns, Sion Williams and Dan Smith were dynamic in open play and the Bourne backs showed plenty of variety in how and where they attacked.

Bourne weren't to have it all their own way though and they were tested heavily in the final 10 minutes of the half as Birstall took their turn to build some pressure of their own.

The visitors were lucky to get to half-time with Birstall still on just three points. Their pressure resulted in a string of penalties and, despite appearing to be relatively straight forward with a strong wind behind them, they somehow missed them all.

Jack Berry scored a hat-trick of tries. (6798771)
Jack Berry scored a hat-trick of tries. (6798771)

Bourne were clearly buoyed at the prospect of just their second win on the road and started the second half as they had the first.

As Birstall tried to clear their lines fly-half Dave Maudsley gathered the ball in the middle of the field.

In danger of being isolated under pressure Maudsley linked well with hooker Harry Thornburn who arrived in support.

Thornburn linked with brother Sam who made a powerful carry before offloading to wing Rob Bentley who showed a decent turn of pace to dot down in the corner. With Evison once again on target Bourne were now 21-3 up.

Not surprisingly Bourne's thoughts turned to a try bonus point and at the next penalty they were awarded stand-in captain Chris Greenwood turned down the opportunity for Evison to take three points, instead opting for Berry to kick to the corner.

Having secured the lineout Bourne moved forward with purpose and Greenwood's decision was justified just moments later when Berry's side-stepping was too much for the Birstall defense and he crossed for his hat-trick. Once again Evison added the extras.

Heading into the final quarter Bourne made several changes and this seemed to impact their progress.

Birstall sensed some opportunity and, despite the result appearing to be a formality, they showed plenty of spirit at the end of the game.

Bourne didn't seem worried by the shift in momentum and switched their efforts to defence.

The visitors’ defence has become something of a strength and it was testament to them that in a game in which they had spent most of their time attacking that they defended the final 20 minutes without conceding.

Lynch, in particular, was inspirational with his tackling and Birstall couldn't find any way through, or indeed round the desperate Bourne defence.

With just a solitary penalty added by Evison, Bourne finished the game with a convincing 31-3 win.



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