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Maudsley's men finish with a flourish after piling up 73 points in home success

Bourne finished their Midlands 3 East (South) season in style on Saturday with a crushing 73-7 victory over St Neots at Milking Nook Drove.

The win crowned a staggering revival for Bourne who had spent almost the entirety of the first half of the season at the bottom of the table.

However, playing at the highest level in the club's history, the side finished their league campaign having won half of their fixtures with more wins than seven of the sides in their league and equal to Daventry who finished fourth.

Saturday’s showdown with old foes St Neots – who pipped Bourne to the Midlands 4 East (South) title on the final day of last season – had little more than bragging rights at stake and the possibility of more respectable league positions with both sides having secured survival with a week to spare.

Bourne were 73-7 victors over St Neots on Saturday. Photo: Alan Hancock (8605641)
Bourne were 73-7 victors over St Neots on Saturday. Photo: Alan Hancock (8605641)

Despite the absence of player-coach Dave Maudsley, sidelined by an ankle injury, Bourne once again fielded a strong side and were confident that they could continue their run of good form.

Maudsley had replaced himself with young fly-half Jack Lagdon who had enjoyed a decent game against Lincoln in Bourne's recent Cup game and is set to fill that gap more permanently when Maudsley retires at the end of the season.

Buoyed by a large crowd thanks partly to the club's chairman's lunch prior to the game, and free from the worries of relegation, it was clear from the start that Bourne were in rampant mood.

Early carries from the Bourne pack saw them make good headway up the field and they were unlucky to not to open the scoring inside the first five minutes with number of powerful surges towards the St Neots try-line.

The early pressure eventually brought about a penalty and, despite their dominant start, Bourne opted for the safety of kicking for goal.

With a fairly straight forward kick scrum-half Sam Evison, regarded as the best kicker in the league, made a rare mistake sending the ball wide.

Evison's mistake did not affect Bourne's momentum and they soon found themselves inside the St Neots 22.

After a series of well worked rucks the Bourne pack made several attempts to cross the line before second row Sam Harby finally barged over.

Harby had been missed the previous week in Bourne's win over Rushden and his return brought a welcome presence against a big St Neots pack. Evison returned to his normal standards slotting over the conversion with ease.

Once Harby had got his side on track there was no stopping Bourne in the first half. Regular hooker Harry Thornburn, at back-row for the afternoon, was dynamic around the park and soon added a second Bourne try. Evison was once again on target with the extras.

Captain, and number eight, Tom Dixon was next to cross the whitewash as the Bourne pack continued to dominate their opponents.

Bourne were 73-7 victors over St Neots on Saturday. Photo: Alan Hancock (8605653)
Bourne were 73-7 victors over St Neots on Saturday. Photo: Alan Hancock (8605653)

At the scrum the front row of Jake Appleby, Ben Haigh and Chris Greenwood totally out-powered their opposite men and, with the St Neots pack being marched backwards, Dixon had a relatively easy afternoon at the base of the scrum.

Dixon crossed almost untroubled from a scrum on the St Neots five-metre line and Evison added the extras.

A short while later the Bourne backs finally had their opportunity to get involved due largely to the continued hard work of their pack.

Having dragged St Neots to one side of the pitch and forced them to defend against some strong running Evison released the ball to Lagdon who instigated a number of simple passes down his backline.

Wing Josh Lynch was the grateful recipient of the last pass and, as he crossed the halfway line, he took it upon himself to finish the move by leaving a number of defenders in his wake as he did so. Evison, not phased by Lynch dotting down in the corner, made light work of another conversion.

Having played almost half an hour Bourne had had the ball almost the entire time and were scoring at a rate of a point a minute and nothing changed in the final 10 minutes of the first half.

Inside the St Neots 22 as they had been almost the entire first 40 minutes, Bourne looked to extend their lead as time and time again the pack outplayed their visitors.

The Bourne forwards, credited with a drastic improvement this year that has galvanised the side, looked equally as comfortable playing at close quarters as they did running in the wider channels and linking with the backs.

Second row Andrew Brown had his best game of the season as he made himself an extra man in attack on several occasions and showed some sublime handling which allowed his backs to attack wide against a weakened defence.

The St Neots defence did just enough to stop a number of Bourne attacks in the corners only to find the hosts changing tact and creating threats centrally.

Full-back Jack Berry was the next to get on the scoresheet as he ran to collect the ball as it lay unguarded at the back of a Bourne ruck.

Bourne were 73-7 victors over St Neots on Saturday. Photo: Alan Hancock (8605658)
Bourne were 73-7 victors over St Neots on Saturday. Photo: Alan Hancock (8605658)

Aware that the St Neots defence was in total disarray Berry took the opportunity to simply step round the side of the ruck before coasting to the sticks almost unnoticed. Evison had no trouble with the conversion.

With just minutes left until half-time Bourne weren't in the mood for letting up and it was centre Sam Thornburn who crossed the line next with Evison's sixth conversion of the half taking the hosts to a 42-0 lead.

Thornburn's centre partner Adam McHugh had carried well in the first half but Lagdon this time, using McHugh as a decoy, threw the ball behind him to Thornburn who had picked a fantastic angle to slide through the St Neots defence.

Although faced by a couple of potential tacklers Thornburn was typically powerful and made light work of finishing the move.

Turning round for the second half Bourne faced a strong wind and cautiously awaited a St Neots backlash.

Although there was a lull in the opening 10 minutes of the half as St Neots appeared to be regrouping, any indication there might be a revival was short-lived.

Bourne were so dominant and found themselves with so much ball it was almost inevitable that they made some mistakes in attack.

But, whenever they did and St Neots had a chance to attack, Bourne were quick to regain possession and punish their guests.

Bourne have dragged themselves to some hard-fought wins in a tough season but their performance against St Neots reflected the style of rugby that saw them promoted last year, with one to fifteen capable of hard graft and high skill sets.

The ability of the side to play attractive and impressive rugby was reflected to perfection by the performance of the back row in the second half who added an additional five tries between them.

Lagdon continued his good work of the first half and was well supported by his centres but it was the work of back-row Adam Binns supporting the backs that brought about Bourne's first try of the second half.

Following Thornburn as he had made a break through the midfield Binns latched on to the centre's pass as he was brought to ground and cruised in from 30 metres. Evison added the conversion and Bourne appeared to be carrying on from where they had left off.

From the restart Binns added his second with a fantastic solo effort.

Bourne were 73-7 victors over St Neots on Saturday. Photo: Alan Hancock (8605643)
Bourne were 73-7 victors over St Neots on Saturday. Photo: Alan Hancock (8605643)

Given the ball just inside his own half Binns chipped the oncoming defence and was first to the ball as it bounced volleying it as he got there.

Getting slightly ahead of the scrambled defence Binns managed to kick the ball again before gathering it and dropping over the line. Evison was on target once more.

Next it was Binns' back row partner Thornburn who added his second.

Thanks to brother Sam in the centres who had managed to rip the ball from his opposite man, Thornburn found himself with the ball in hand and spotting a gap he showed incredible pace to finish from 25 metres out.

At 63-0 the result was a foregone conclusion but Bourne were frustrated to eventually concede with just 15 minutes left.

St Neots strung together a number of decent phases and Bourne, perhaps jaded by their efforts in attack, appeared to switch off momentarily allowing the visitors to round their very narrow defence with almost no effort to halt the move.

Spurred on by their mistake Bourne set about making amends. Although everyone played their part in their performance, in particular man of the match Lagdon, it was Dixon who stole the show adding two late tries to seal his hat-trick.

The first of Dixon's tries came from a well worked line-out move run between himself and Thornburn, reinstated at hooker for the final minutes.

Having taken Thornburn's throw at a five-metre lineout Dixon returned the ball to Thornburn as he was let down in the lineout. Rounding the front of the line Dixon then took it back again before crashing over.

With a difficult kick from the touchline Evison missed the conversion by the narrowest of margins.

With the final play of the game Bourne continued to charge at the St Neots defence who not surprisingly looked ready for the final whistle.

The St Neots pack were almost at a standstill when Dixon took possession of the ball at a ruck just inside their half.

Side-stepping the half-hearted challenges of the St Neots defence closest to the breakdown Dixon then sprinted in 40 metres by evading the attention of the a last-ditch defender.

With Dixon this time scoring on the other touchline Evison was frustrated to once again fall slightly short.

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