RUGBY UNION: Tough time for Bourne in final game
Bourne’s historic season finished with Saturday’s defeat at Thorney.
Missing nine regulars, they started the game with three players out of position – notably back-rowers Adam Binns and Tom Dixon moving to scrum-half and inside centre.
Bourne had everything to play for in terms of topping the table if they won and Deepings could also do them a favour by beating St Neots.
The early signs were good as centre Matt Holden snatched an interception and cruised in from 25 metres out.
Taking over the kicking duties, skipper Dixon slotted the extra points with ease.
However, this was as good as it got for Bourne.
From the restart, Thorney regrouped and made good use of a heavy pack working well off an organised scrum-half and flyhalf pairing.
Bourne suddenly found themselves missing tackles and the home side seemed to make yards with ease.
Just minutes after Bourne had opened the scoring, the hosts had levelled the game.
The lack of cohesion in the rearranged Bourne side was apparent and, despite their efforts to make amends, the missed tackles and lack of structure proved costly.
Thorney soon crossed again to take the lead.
At 14-7 behind at half-time, Bourne might have considered themselves capable of a comeback.
But the opening minutes of the second half suggested this wasn’t to be the fairytale ending to the season.
Thorney’s scrum became very dominant and they were awarded a long string of penalties on the five-metre line that took the game well into the second half.
Despite several warnings, Bourne somehow avoided conceding for 15 minutes but eventually the pressure was too much and, after choosing to take the ball away from the scrum, Thorney scored to extend their lead. Missing the conversion, the home side led 19-7.
Bourne suffered more disruption to their side when player-coach Dave Maudsley was forced to leave the field after picking up a leg injury.
Thanks to an inspirational performance by Dixon, the side rallied together for one final push and, despite the result, the last 20 minutes proved a fitting finish to the season.
Dixon led the way in both defence and attack while his team-mates seemed driven to support his endeavours.
Thorney, understandably enjoying their moment of glory, were frustrated to end the game without more points.
The penultimate play saw Dixon break through and make 50 yards, only to lose the ball forward as he was brought down by the covering defence.
From the resulting scrum it was an indication of how much threat Bourne still posed that Thorney chose to kick for touch rather than play any longer.
Bourne manager Paul Mambey, having played the full game in the front row, announced his retirement after the game.
He said: “We knew it would be tough with so many regulars missing.
“It’s testament to the sort of club we are that so many people were willing to step up and play – there were guys who often end up benching, vets who’ve barely played all year and colts making their senior debut, yet nobody was found wanting in terms of their effort.”
Maudsley added: “The lads have grown as individuals both on and off the field in terms of ability and attitude.”