Development plans continue with second team also in action
Bourne's revival during the second half of the Midlands 3 East (South) season continued at the weekend as they enjoyed an emphatic 43-15 win over mid-table Stockwood Park.
Their third successive win since Christmas saw Bourne leap from the foot of the table to eighth place which was just reward for their sixth league win in their first season at this level.
With the game being postponed from the previous week, Bourne had been forced to make a couple of changes to the squad but with a number of players returning from injury the club's strength in depth appears to be returning.
Captain Tom Dixon had a big impact in his first appearance this side of Christmas and Sam Thornburn put in a man of the match performance in his first 80 minutes for five months.
The game's opening 10 minutes suggested that Stockwood had travelled well and both sides enjoyed their fair share of possession but also matched each other defensively.
Bourne, however, pride themselves on their home performances and having grown into the season they looked confident as they started to wear down their opponents with a high tempo game.
Once again the Bourne pack was hugely influential. Although they didn't dominate the set-piece as they have on occasions this season their contribution in open play gave their guests little opportunity to get any sort of grip on the game and the home side started to make yards with some powerful ball carrying.
Bourne's progress seemed to be hindered with a double injury blow when both centre Josh Lynch and wing Chris Warnes were hurt in the same phase of play leaving coach Dave Maudsley the issue of replacing two of his starting backline with only one back replacement on the bench.
Utility back JD Charlton came on to replace Lynch and flanker Ben Keast replaced Adam Binns in the pack after Binns put himself forward to shift to the wing.
Despite the disruption to the line-up Bourne didn't falter and they were quickly rewarded for their endeavour.
In a fantastic team effort every player was involved as the hosts forged their way upfield with an array of clever running and sublime offloads.
The Bourne pack provided a season highlight as they were heavily involved in finishing the try, second row Sam Harby and hooker Harry Thornburn linking in midfield to get the ball out wide where, ironically, it was Binns that finished the move.
Despite a strong wind blowing across the pitch scrum-half Sam Evison somehow added the conversion.
This opening try kick-started the game for Bourne who scored again in almost identical fashion.
Lynch, having returned to the field, played a big part in the second try as his partnership with Thornburn continues to grow - the two linking well throughout the game.
Having received a pass from Thornburn, Lynch made ground before finding Binns with a spectacular offload allowing him to cross for his second try. Evison once again added the difficult conversion.
Bourne were clearly enjoying themselves and playing in a fashion that suggested they certainly haven't let their position in the table inhibit their ambitions.
A third try came not long after and once again it appeared everybody played their part although it was full-back Jack Berry who played the biggest role and Lynch this time turned finisher. From the opposite side of the pitch to his first two kicks Evison was on target once again.
The first half finished 21-0 and in the post match discussions it was heralded by many as the best 40 minutes in the club's history.
With so much at stake the Bourne players seemed to have finally found the sort of form that saw them promoted last season and may well see them avoid relegation this year.
Despite the blistering performance in the first half the result seemed in jeopardy in the opening ten minutes of the second half as Bourne conceded two quick tries.
Bourne, with the sun and wind behind them, appeared to have switched off at the interval, perhaps thinking they had done enough and some silly errors allowed the visitors an opportunity to get back into the game.
With the conversions missed Bourne were now ahead 21-10 with half-an-hour to play and in danger of undoing their good work.
But the hosts quickly lifted their energy levels and once again took the game to Stockwood at a tempo that proved too much for the visitors.
Evison and fly-half Maudsley took control of the game and made good use of their pack who were superior to their opponents in most areas.
Having scored three fabulous tries out wide in the first half, Bourne concentrated their efforts more centrally in the second half and the forwards worked tirelessly to maintain possession.
Stockwood's defence although desperate was resolute and Bourne were made to earn each yard but they were up to the task and their effective recycling of the ball put their opponents under considerable pressure.
Having spent a large chunk of time in the Stockwood 22, Bourne were eventually rewarded as replacement Andrew Brown looked to be regaining his best form after a long injury lay-off and he was key to Bourne's next score.
After another successful ruck on the Stockwood try line, Brown positioned himself smartly to provide Evison with the simplest of platforms to dive over from. Adding the kick Evison had taken his side to 28-10 and secure the try bonus point.
Stockwood put in a much better performance in the second half and the game was well balanced for much of the final 20 minutes. Bourne though looked the better side and it was them that crossed for the next try.
As they had previously the Bourne forwards built a number of phases and this time it was Keast that crossed to extend the lead after evading the defence with some smart footwork.
Despite the result appearing to be a foregone conclusion the final 15 minutes was full of action.
With Stockwood building some late pressure Dixon was yellow carded for an infringement just off his own try-line.
Opting for a scrum against the seven man Bourne pack, Stockwood secured possession and a simple pick-up from their number eight brought their final try as he cruised through the gap in defence where theoretically Dixon would have been defending. Despite a straight forward kick Stockwood couldn't add the extras.
Fittingly it was Bourne who took the final points of the day when Stockwood, inside their own half, aimlessly kicked a loose ball forward and inadvertently straight into the arms of Binns.
Binns passed to wing Rob Bentley who has recorded tries in almost every game of Bourne's good run. With plenty of ground left to cover Bentley beat the final defender to dot down in the corner, taking his side to 38 points and a comfortable victory.
With just two other league games at the weekend, Bourne's hopes for survival were boosted with both St Neots and Biggleswade losing. Bourne's victory now sees them sitting above four teams with just a handful of games left.
Coach Maudsley was delighted after the game.
He said: "The first half was a fantastic performance and the three tries were as good as I've ever seen in terms of team efforts.
“We switched off at the start of the second half but we were the better side for larger parts of the game and were well worthy of the win.
"We had an incredibly tough start to the season but we've had some good wins and we're finally sitting in a position that reflects that.
“There's a long way to go before the end of the season but the prospects look far better while there are four teams sitting below us.”
Dixon echoed Maudsley's sentiments.
He added: “We struggled at the start of the season when we weren't picking up losing bonus points but if we continue to play like this and win games we can put that behind us.
“We believe this is the right level for the club and we believe we deserve to stay here, so we need to finish the season strongly.”
Plans for Bourne to run a regular second team continue to develop and, for the first time this side of Christmas, the club ran two sides at the weekend.
The second team made the short trip to Spalding under the leadership of Neil Oglesbee with up-and-coming fly-half Jack Lagdon taking the role of vice-captain.
The side started well and took an early lead through centre Theo Hoyles-Simpson who finished a well-worked team try.
Wing Matt Kidd couldn’t add the conversion but Bourne were clearly energised by their efforts so early in the game.
But it was the home side that struck next and, with a double whammy, they picked up two tries in a short spell where they capitalised on Bourne mistakes.
The Spalding side looked a more settled unit as a result of playing more regularly and Bourne looked to suffer with several of their players having only met for the first time during the warm-up.
Bourne quickly bounced back from their mistakes and, with the first half drawing to a close, they were unlucky to be trailing 10-5 but thanks to a moment of magic from Kidd they finished the half in front.
Kidd received a loose Spalding kick in his own half and, with a mixture of pace and guile, managed to evade almost the entire Spalding side on his way to scoring. Adding the kick, Kidd had put his side 12-10 up.
Bourne’s effort level in the second half remained high. The forwards worked tirelessly to build a platform and the backs looked dangerous in attack but the side lacked cohesion and they were guilty of too many mistakes.
As they had in the first half Spalding made the most of their opportunities and slowly built a lead.
Spalding’s progress was halted momentarily when man of the match Hoyles-Simpson crossed for his second try after a decent solo effort, the conversion added by Kidd.
With a small squad on the day Bourne tired in the final quarter but they remained committed in defence and cut short a number of Spalding attacks.
The final scoreline of 34-19 perhaps flattered the hosts but it had been a valuable experience for both sides.
Bourne captain Oglesbee paid tribute to his side after the game.
He said "The lads worked hard and undoubtedly deserved a better scoreline than that but the priority at this point is just getting a side out.
"It was a bonus that we played so well for large parts of the game and if we continue playing and performing like that the results will soon start going our way."
Club chairman Ted Thornburn was pleased to see two sides out on the same day.
He added: “We had more than 30 players involved on Saturday and that’s fantastic.
"The first team are at the best level they’ve ever played at and deserve to stay there – that ambition will be easier to fulfil if we have a decent second team set-up."
More by this authorJames Bedford