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Maudsley's men overcome slow start to claim crucial success

Bourne bounced back to winning ways with a crucial 17-16 victory over Rushden & Higham in their must-win Midlands 3 East (South) clash at Milking Nook Drove on Saturday.

Despite being 10-0 down after just five minutes of the match, Bourne staged a rousing recovery against their third-from-bottom visitors.

And player-coach Dave Maudsley is hoping the sterling success will galvanise his side as they aim to beat the drop in the second half of the campaign.

Bourne v Rushden & Higham. Photo: Alan Hancock (6056998)
Bourne v Rushden & Higham. Photo: Alan Hancock (6056998)

He said: “It was a hard-fought win and the lads thoroughly deserved it.

“We were caught out at the start of the game which made the challenge harder than it needed to be but we stuck at it and played some smart rugby.

“Every game is a tough one and we need to work hard to stay up. As good as we were on Saturday, we are capable of being much better and we'll need to be to ensure we win as many games as possible in the second half of the season.”

Despite also being near the bottom of the table Rushden had had a couple of decent results lately and Bourne were expecting a tough afternoon.

With skipper Tom Dixon sidelined through injury, they were made to fear the worst as a missed tackle in the midfield allowed Rushden to make yards before exploiting the resulting gaps to score the opening try just minutes after the game had started.

They then had their second almost immediately after some powerful work by their forwards.

Bourne eventually shook off their slow start and with the wind behind them they played their way into the Rushden half.

The Bourne forwards looked to be back in form as they recycled possession well in open play and dominated the setpiece.

Prop Chris Greenwood, on his return from injury, proved too strong for his opposite man and he provided Bourne with their first scoring opportunity of the day, winning a penalty at a scrum deep in the Rushden half. Kicker Sam Evison, playing at fly-half, converted the three points with ease.

From the restart Bourne quickly worked their way back into the Rushden half and the forwards picked up where they had left off.

A short while later coach Maudsley found himself with the ball and little in the way of options.

Putting his head down Maudsley headed for the line via a number of Rushden defenders and somehow found himself crashing over to score, partly thanks to an extra shove from team-mate Sion Williams. Evison added the conversion and Bourne were level at 10-10.

Bourne v Rushden & Higham. Photo: Alan Hancock (6057012)
Bourne v Rushden & Higham. Photo: Alan Hancock (6057012)

Against the wind for the second half it looked as though Bourne would have their work cut out but they implemented a smart game plan that allowed them to spend most of the half within striking distance of the Rushden try-line.

With Maudsley at inside centre and flanker Williams dropping into the backline at line-outs the ball was regularly carried back towards the pack who then recycled efficiently meaning Bourne enjoyed the majority of possession, building pressure on their guests.

The pressure was eventually too much for Rushden and, after a series of effective rucks and mauls, the Bourne forwards had forced themselves into a prime position which enabled number eight Adam Binns to dart over and dot down.

Binns looked to be in for his second a short while later when Maudsley, having gathered a Rushden kick, ran back into the visitors’ half.

Having beaten the last man Maudsley offloaded to Binns who had a clear run to the line but the move was brought to an abrupt end when the pass was mistakenly judged to have been forward.

Had Binns scored Bourne would have felt far more comfortable in the last 20 minutes but instead the game looked very different. Rushden added a penalty to get within four points and soon after were awarded another penalty.

Rushden threatened out wide a number of times but they were well marshalled by wings Rob Bentley and Calum Weston and full-back Josh Lynch who was as reliable as ever.

On a day where they had the ball for much of the game, Bourne's defence - the first 10 minutes aside - was resolute and it was to their credit that when Rushden were awarded another penalty late in the game that they chose to kick again rather than push for a try.

The final minutes of the game were a tense affair as Bourne did their best not to make any mistakes but it was clear that they knew what they were doing as they centred everything around the pack and built a solid platform at their guests' end of the pitch.

Evison showed his faith in his forwards as he turned down a number of opportunities to kick penalties, choosing instead to run the clock down with a number of scrums and lineouts.

Man of the match Binns was instrumental in the closing stages by leading the way with ball in hand.

With the final play of the game another Bourne attack resulted in a penalty and it was to the home side's relief that it was kicked well into touch and the win, albeit by the slimmest of margins, had been secured.

The side were well supported for the game with a vice-president's dinner prior to kick-off and club chairman Ted Thornburn was grateful for the support of so many of the non-playing members.

He said: “It was fantastic to see so many people here - the lads love the support and it's great they got the win.

“The club is growing on and off the pitch and we're very grateful to so many people for their involvement and help at so many different levels.”

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