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RUGBY UNION: Semi-final win is bonus for Bourne

Bourne's focus remains on league survival after booking a cup final place.

With a break in the league, attention turned to the NLD Cup against North Hykeham who were beaten last season at the same stage of the RFU Cup.

Bourne looked at ease in the warm-up but their relaxed approach cost them in the opening minutes when Hykeham crossed for an early try.

Bourne v North Hykeham
Bourne v North Hykeham

Switching on at the restart Bourne started to build some pressure and made some decent headway.

Once again the pack were responsible for much of the good work and they effectively built a number of phases, sucking in the Hykeham defence as they made their way upfield.

On reaching the Hykeham 22, the Bourne backs then shifted the ball wide and hooker Harry Thornburn joined the line in support before stepping inside the last of the defenders to put his side on level terms.

Scrum-half Evison then added the conversion to take his side in front.

And it was the pack that created the platform for Bourne's next score.

Strong ball carrying from prop Chris Greenwood and second row Andrew Brown forced the Hykeham defence backwards and gave their side significant momentum.

Although a breakdown 10 metres off the try line seemed to have given Hykeham respite, a powerful carry from second row Sam Harby saw him force his way through several defenders to extend Bourne's lead. Evison was on target once again.

Bourne v North Hykeham
Bourne v North Hykeham

Bourne weren't having it all their own way and the visitors showed some real intent with their attacking game.

With some big forwards and a backline that looked comfortable with the ball in hand, Hykeham strung together some phases of their own and earned their way into the Bourne 22.

Attacking from a lineout, Hykeham ran the ball wide and some confusion in the Bourne midfield left them short of numbers defensively. Hykeham capitalised on the mistake, crossing for their second try.

With the conversion missed, Bourne were just ahead 14-10 - a fair reflection of the opening 30 minutes.

The home side dominated the final 10 minutes of the first half and spent the entire time camped inside the Hykeham half.

The Hykeham defence was solid and looked as though it would keep Bourne pinned to the four-point defecit until fly-half Dave Maudsley put centre Josh Lynch in for a try with just a couple of minutes left in the half.

With a quick dart to the blindside of a ruck, Maudsley had drawn the attention of two defenders and - although his own run came to an abrupt end - he was able to offload the ball into the path of the oncoming Lynch whose quick feet enabled him to finish in style.

Evison was unable to add the tricky conversion from the side of the pitch.

Bourne v North Hykeham
Bourne v North Hykeham

Bourne started the second half in much better fashion.

With the wind and sun behind them, they pinned Hykeham to their own end of the pitch and set about wearing them down.

Despite so much territory and possession, Bourne weren't as clinical as they had been in recent weeks and missed a number of opportunities to extend their lead.

They eventually took the game back to basics and settled into some sort of rhythm trying to build phases rather than do too much too quickly.

It was the basics done well that led to Bourne's next score.

Having seen his pack force their way onto the Hykeham try line and tire their opponents as they did so, Maudsley joined the back of a ruck before a pick-and-go allowed him to simply fall the right side of the line.

Evison was back on target and at 26-10 Bourne looked to be far enough ahead.

But Hykeham struck next as they finally got a chance to attack.

Bourne appeared to have switched off momentarily and before they knew it they were desperately defending their own try line.

Although they were up to the task initially, Hykeham persisted with a number of strong carries and the Bourne defence - having been taken one way and then the other - became disjointed and some sloppy attempts to bring down the Hykeham prop weren't enough to stop him scoring.

Bourne v North Hykeham
Bourne v North Hykeham

From the restart Bourne once again pinned Hykeham to their own end of the pitch and it wasn't long before the pressure was too much for the guests.

As his forwards took control of the game, full-back Jack Berry found himself at first receiver.

With the Hykeham defence pulled narrow, Berry threw a long pass to centre Adam McHugh who then threw another long pass to Lynch who crossed in the corner untroubled.

Evison added the conversion and with just minutes left Bourne looked to have wrapped the game up at 33-15.

But Bourne slipped up once again and allowed Hykeham a consolation try in the dying minutes.

Maudsley had made a number of changes in the final quarter and there were decent cameos from second row Paul Mambey and back row Charlie Short while in the backs wing JJ Roberts proved influential.

Man of the match Jack Fitch had a lively afternoon, taking part in much of his side's attacking and often heavily involved defensively.

Bourne v North Hykeham
Bourne v North Hykeham

Maudsley admitted: "The priority this season has always been league survival and we haven't really given the cups much consideration.

"Although it was nice to play without the pressure we're feeling with each league game, we looked like a side that had switched off altogether at times.

"It's great that we've made the final and we'll obviously do our best when the time comes but between now and then there's a lot of league rugby to be played and we have work to do.

"Although winning is fantastic, we know we're capable of playing better rugby and will need to to stay in Midlands Three."

Manager Paul Mabey added: "The lads have had a tough season but we've stuck together and deserve to do well.

"The priority has always been the league and we appear to have turned the corner there - if we can win some silverware before the end of the season that will be a bonus."

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