Key decisions go against Maudsley's men who are left frustrated by home defeat
Bourne were left ruing a missed opportunity at the weekend as they went down to a 22-26 home defeat against Midlands 3 East (South) high-flyers Leicester Forest.
Dave Maudsley’s men had raced into a 12-0 lead against their third-placed visitors at Milking Nook Drove on Saturday.
However, a number of key decisions went against Bourne who were left feeling frustrated and hoping that they won't be made to pay for not taking more from the game in their battle against relegation.
Maudsley said: “I genuinely think we lost that rather than they won it.
“We had a good lead with the conditions against us and failed to build on that, allowing them back into the game.
“Whatever we think of the referee we have to cope with his decisions – it was poor on our part that we become so frustrated and worse still that we couldn't then function as a side.
“We've talked recently about not being bullied by sides but, when Forest saw us playing all the rugby in the first half-hour, they dragged the game down and us with it.”
Having seen off the fourth, fifth and sixth-placed sides in recent weeks, Bourne were confident they could compete with third-placed Forest and it was the home side that started brightly.
Despite playing into a strong wind, Bourne dominated from the kick off and quickly found themselves threatening the Forest try-line.
The hosts showed good patience as they built pressure through the forwards and this soon paid off.
Having worked the Forest defence from one side of the pitch to the other, Bourne then looked to go back the other way.
As they did so centre Sam Thornburn ran a simple line through the middle of the pitch and, ignoring a couple of potential tacklers, crossed under the sticks with ease. Scrum-half Sam Evison added the conversion.
From the restart the Bourne forwards continued to build a platform. Prop Chris Greenwood and second row Sam Harby carried well and they were well supported by their back row counterparts Dan Smith and Adam Binns who were invaluable in the loose.
With his side having progressed into the Forest 22, player-coach Maudsley - at fly-half - spotted a mis-match in their defensive line and managed to work his way through.
Having then beaten the scrambling defence to the try-line, Maudsley selflessly offloaded the ball to wing Josh Lynch who had supported his run. Kicking into the wind Evison could do nothing but watch his effort drift wide.
Just a quarter of the way into the game Bourne were 12-0 up and by some margin the better side.
But Forest began to enjoy some possession of their own and with every opportunity they looked to pin Bourne back in their own half.
Eventually the hosts were undone as Forest, similar to Bourne's first effort, shipped the ball to both sides of the pitch.
Stretching the Bourne defence Forest found a numerical advantage and eventually crossed for their first try.
Having regained possession from the restart, Forest made some powerful runs back into the Bourne half and the home side were guilty of giving gave away a number of penalties.
With Forest opting to kick to the corner Bourne found themselves defending a line-out on their own try-line and a number of breakdowns that soon followed.
Bourne somehow kept Forest from scoring for an extended passage of play and were unlucky to concede in the dying minutes of the half.
Their frustration at a number of the refereeing decisions was compounded as the official appeared to get in the way of the Bourne defensive line and impeded two tacklers who could then only half-tackle the Forest prop as he crashed over from five yards out.
Bourne's appeals fell on deaf ears and with the conversion added they were unfortunate to be trailing 14-12 at half-time.
With the conditions now in their favour, Bourne quickly took advantage in the second half and within minutes Evison had given his side the lead back with a long-range penalty effort.
But momentum quickly swung away from Bourne who seemed at odds with the referee for the bulk of the second half.
A string of decisions went against the hosts and Forest capitalised on their growing frustration. Bourne, becoming less and less cohesive, didn't appear to have answers for either the official or their opponents and seemed helpless for a large part of the game.
Not surprisingly Forest soon converted their pressure into points and their third try was almost a carbon copy of their second.
This time though Bourne had no-one to blame but themselves as they seemed to be switching off from the game.
At 21-15 down Bourne looked to be throwing the win away but were still clinging to a losing bonus point.
Forest though had become wise to Bourne's weakness and looked to disrupt the game at every opportunity.
A number of meaningless fracases broke out and both sides appeared guilty of putting the rugby to one side in a sloppy 20 minute period.
With the game in danger of spiralling out of control the referee started brandishing his cards although this appeared to have little effect as frustrations continued to boil over.
Forest appeared marginally better at keeping their cool and, among all that was going on, they added another try to their tally. Bourne's bonus point looked to have disappeared at this point with time running out.
But Bourne knuckled down and started to put their stamp back on the game.
Some smart kicking from hand by Evison and full-back Jack Berry allowed Bourne to camp in the Forest 22 for much of the final minutes and this was backed up by strong carries from second row Andrew Brown and captain Tom Dixon.
Eventually Bourne's pressure was too much and they managed to to ship the ball to replacement wing Jack Fitch who then found Thornburn supporting on his inside.
With Fitch's pass not quite making it to hand man of the match Thornburn had to check his run to collect the ball but still managed to crash through the Forest defence. Evison added a difficult kick and, with just minutes left, Bourne were 22-26 down.
Knowing that a try would still win the game Bourne gathered the restart with the intention of working their way back into the Forest half but they quickly coughed up possession and ironically spent the final minute defending frantically.
It was testament to the nature of the game that the final play inside the Bourne 22 saw Forest, having won their own scrum, choose to end the game by kicking the ball dead rather than playing any longer.
Of the four sides below Bourne in the table only St Neots picked up a win but, with it bringing a bonus point, this means that with four games remaining just eight points separate Bourne in eighth and St Neots in 11th.
Biggleswade seem destined to be relegated as not raising a side at the weekend sees them at the bottom of the table.
Bourne are hoping to have secured safety before they and St Neots meet in the last game of the season.
Skipper Dixon commented: “It was good to run Leicester Forest close but it means very little when we could in fact have beaten them.
“A few things didn't go our way and we allowed them to dominate our thoughts rather than put all our energy into our rugby.
“Forest are a well organised side with some decent players but more than anything they outsmarted us.”
More by this authorJames Bedford