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Bourne fail to stay ahead as refereeing decisions open the door for Huntingdon to draw at Milking Nook Drove

Bourne came up just short in making it three league wins in a row after a tight encounter against Huntingdon at Milking Nook Drove.

The visitors, having dropped down two leagues in as many seasons, arrived in Bourne determined to show the type of form that would help them back up to Midlands Two level in a game they targeted for maximum points.

But the home side had ideas of their own to continue with their growth at Midlands Three level, havingstarted the season in a similar vein of form to that which saw them avoid relegation last season.

Action from Bourne v Huntingdon at Milking Nook Drove.Photo by Alan Hancock. (19806834)
Action from Bourne v Huntingdon at Milking Nook Drove.Photo by Alan Hancock. (19806834)

The game was deadlocked for the opening ten minutes as the defence of both sides were on top, meaning little territory was given away.

Despite being lighter by some margin, Bourne's pack matched Huntingdon's at the set-piece, while looking the more dynamic round the park.

Prop Chris Greenwood carried on with his good form for the home side and second row Sam Harby was heavily involved carrying the ball forward.

Action from Bourne v Huntingdon at Milking Nook Drove.Photo by Alan Hancock. (19806762)
Action from Bourne v Huntingdon at Milking Nook Drove.Photo by Alan Hancock. (19806762)

But on the ten-minute mark, Bourne's influential number eight Tom Dixon was caught by a swinging elbow and looked to have suffered a broken nose.

Still the home side chose not to be phased and the game carried on with notable shows of physicality from both sides.

On the half-hour mark, Bourne's persistence finally paid off and they won a penalty at the breakdown as the bigger Huntingdon pack seemed to be tiring.

Replacement skipper, centre Sam Evison, kicked a relatively difficult penalty to take his side three points ahead as they headed into the final ten minutes of the half.

From the restart, Bourne looked to put their stamp on the game and quickly forced a lineout inside the Huntingdon 22.

With the lineout in the right-hand corner of the field, the ball was fed to the backs by scrum-half JJ Roberts and was then quickly shipped down the backline.

Wing Josh Lynch took the ball on the 22-metre line and feigned to go inside his man, before stepping outside and leaving him wrong-footed as he cruised to the line.

Evison missed with the conversion attempt but Bourne looked worthy of their lead on the verge of half-time.

Huntingdon did find time to add a penalty of their own after a Bourne infringement and the sides turned round at half-time with the game nicely poised at 8-3.

Not long into the second half Bourne looked to force their domination on the game when the entire side got involved in a number of phases that started in their own half and worked its way into the Huntingdon 22.

Back row Adam Binns was involved a number of times, reflecting a good afternoon's work by the club's vice captain, while well-supported by a determined Bourne pack.

It was the backs who took the glory though as the ball found its way to full back Jack Berry who dealt with a difficult pass well before shifting the ball out to centre Sam Thornburn.

With apparently nowhere to go, Thornburn showed incredible strength to beat two men and then get by two more Huntingdon defenders to touch down.

Evison added the conversion kick to leave Bourne looking comfortable at 15-3 up.

However, Huntingdon showed no signs of giving up as they went on to have a greater share of possession and territory in the final quarter.

They were aided by a slight advantage in conditions, but as well as they attacked, there was a good piece of fortune about their first try when an attacking phase seemed to have come to an end with a handling error just inside the Bourne 22.

But the visitors were quicker to react as the match official made the call to play on, having felt the ball went forward off a Huntingdon foot.

The Huntingdon players immediately apologised for the mistake but the try was allowed to stand, although the conversion wass missed and Bourne stayed 15-8 in front.

But this moment of play seemed to affect Bourne in the final 15 minutes of the game and the momentum swung towards their guests.

A number of penalties went against the hosts and back row Dan Smith was eventually yellow-carded, leaving Bourne to see it the final ten minutes a man down.

As a number of penalties continued to go against them, Bourne lost their structure and conceded again when some good work by Huntingdon saw them attack down the left flank.

The threat looked to have been averted when Lynch made a fantastic covering tackle, seemingly buying time for his team-mates to recover their defensive positions.

But a number of weak attempts to tackle Huntingdon's last man saw him cross over for another try and a successful conversion brought the sides level.

Despite being at a numerical disadvantage as Huntingdon looked inspired in the final few minutes, Bourne rallied and put in a resilient defensive effort.

When the final whistle blew, it was evident that Huntingdon were the happier of the two sides having grabbed something from nothing.

After the game, Bourne player-coach Andrew Brown said: "We're gutted that we didn't see the game out and take maximum points, particularly having played so well for an hour.

"But at the end of the day we didn't lose and there were lots of positives to take from the game.

"Above all, it's another indication that we can compete at this level and possibly higher".

Joint man of the match for Bourne, back row Gary Farrell whoshared the award with Greenwood, said: "It's disappointing to draw after taking a decent lead.

"But games won't always go our way, no matter how well we play, and we have to realise that mistakes will be made, decisions will go against us and we'll play sides that are considered to be better than us.

"All we can do is to keep our heads and try to keep playing to our best."

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