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RUGBY UNION: Bourne leave it late despite early advantage

Sam Evison sealed a man-of-the-match display with a late penalty to send Bourne into the next round.

Having won the NLD Shield last season, Bourne were promoted to the cup competition and - despite the long trip - they travelled in confidence with almost full availability.

From the kick-off, centre JD Charlton was immediately called upon to put in a solid tackle as Southwell showed their intent to attack and this set the tone for the opening 10 minutes.


Southwell enjoyed almost all the possession and Bourne were required to defend relentlessly. But Charlton's efforts inspired the visitors and they put in a remarkable defensive effort.

Both sides played with intensity and it was clear that Southwell were rattled by their inability to find any reward as tempers quickly became frayed.

In a moment of madness, the Southwell centre needlessly kneed flanker Adam Binns in the head during a break in play. Not surprisingly he was given red and Southwell were facing 70 minutes with 14 men.

In a bizarre twist Bourne also received a red card but remained with 15 men on the pitch.

Player-coach Andrew Brown had made the decision to start himself on the bench in order to cover the front row and appeared to enter the field of play during the scuffle that followed the Southwell misdemeanour in an effort to restrain one of his own players.

Taking a dim view of Brown's involvement, the referee also showed him a red card - meaning Bourne would continue with just two replacements.

Despite the prolonged break in play, the first half continued in the same fashion as the opening stages with Southwell very much the dominant side in attack but Bourne doing a good job of matching them defensively.

Bourne were buoyed by the return of captain Tom Dixon at number eight and flanker Charlie Short continued where he had left off the previous week - showing the sort of ability that will undoubtedly get him more game time this season.

In the backs, centre Sam Thornburn was as strong as ever in the tackle with a number of turn-overs and on the few occasions Southwell got the ball to the wide channels, wings Josh Lynch and Jamie Colangelo kept their opposite numbers in check.

Not surprisingly the sides were still level at half-time, both having failed to score.

Playing against 14 men, Bourne might have been disappointed not to have had more opportunities in attack but Southwell were a fit and well-drilled side and strong in defence.

When Bourne did have the ball, they lacked structure by failing to string together any significant number of phases before coughing up the ball again.

But this was just Bourne's second game and the first time a number of the side have featured this season. As the game progressed, there was evidence that they were losing some of their early season rust.

An inspired run by prop Dan Wiggin put Bourne on the front foot at the start of the second half and with the conditions in their favour, the guests sensed their chance was coming.

However, at this point matters began to unravel for Bourne again.

After his efforts Wiggin had to leave the field injured and with Brown unable to take his place in the side, Bourne were forced to rearrange the pack.

Hooker Harry Thornburn moved to prop to cover Wiggin and Binns moved from the back row to hooker. Centre Charlton, who had been given a rest at the interval, was immediately called back into action and found himself in the back row.

Bourne's lack of structure in the first half clearly wasn't aided by the change in personnel and having made their first visit into the home 22 they quickly lost the territory and Southwell picked up their momentum in attack.

With both sides desperate for points, the game became scrappy - neither side capable of building phases and instead hoping they might conjure something rather than earn it.

Bourne's defensive efforts in the first half seemed to have taken their toll as the visitors began to slip off tackles and it wasn't long before the Southwell attack took advantage.

Bourne's clearance kicking throughout the game had led to mixed results and, having missed touch 10 minutes into the second half, Southwell ran back with purpose.

Some decent running from the Southwell winger brought his side close to the try line and with a poor kick-chase from Bourne, they were in disarray defensively.

Failing to sort themselves, Bourne conceded under the posts and with the conversion added it seemed they were making hard work for themselves.

Bourne have shown a resilience in recent years and often thrived on difficult circumstances - their off-the-cuff style of play catching numerous sides by surprise.

With just 25 minutes left on the clock, they began to look more like themselves.

Young scrum-half James Thomas looked energetic and Evison, having moved to centre to accommodate Thomas, showed his versatility as he benefitted from more time on the ball.

JJ Roberts kick-started the Bourne revival as the full-back made a number of impressive breaks in the second half.

Taking the ball deep into Southwell territory, Roberts was eventually brought down in the corner but the Bourne pack were ready in support and the ball was quickly secured before fly-half Jack Berry sent it along the back line.

Good handling by the Bourne backs saw the ball worked quickly across the field and Roberts then finished the move, crossing in the corner for Bourne's first points. Evison couldn't add the extras so Bourne trailed by two.

The final 20 minutes was typical of knockout rugby with both sides desperate to finish stronger.

Evison unusually missed two penalties that would have taken his side in front and Southwell scored next.

With the Bourne defence tiring, Southwell had made good ground before winning a penalty under the posts - with the kick going through the home side were now 10-7 up.

Bourne looked to bounce back once again.

Lock Sam Harby carried well and prop Jake Appleby was dynamic in the loose.

As the game neared the final minutes, Southwell also began to tire and the Bourne forwards found another gear.

Working hard to make ground and recycle the ball, Bourne found themselves nearing the try line and eventually the ball found its way into the hands of right wing Colangelo.

He darted over to score and thinking ahead managed to crash through a couple of final defenders to get as close to the posts as possible.

A grateful Evison added the conversion with ease and Bourne were ahead for the first time with just 10 minutes left.

There was a tense end to the game as Southwell first added a penalty to go ahead 13-12 but then Bourne, with almost no time left on the clock, also added another penalty courtesy of Evison.

With Bourne nudging ahead to 15-13, the referee called last play of the game as Bourne lined up to receive the restart.

Securing the catch, skipper Dixon set a breakdown and as the ball became available Thomas kicked it well into touch.

Player-coach Brown said: "I'm obviously disappointed not to have been involved. Ironically I was trying to help one of our lads and that's backfired unfortunately.

"On a positive note we've come to a tough place and dug out a win. Although we showed in small parts what we're capable of we were a long way from our best and still did enough to win!

"We'll be training hard again this week - we know where we're ok and we know where we need to get better. Hopefully the win is the start of some momentum going into the league."

Vice-captain and man of the match Evison added: "We had a lucky escape but we clearly have the desire and ability to play well and see out games.

"If we can play at our best for bigger parts of each game we'll have a good league campaign. It starts with training and so far the numbers and the intensity have been good."

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