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Bourne win fourth successive league game in tricky conditions and with some mistakes

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Bourne picked up their sixth win in seven league games after mastering both the conditions and Rushden & Higham at Milking Nook Drove.

With a number of absentees, player/coach Andrew Brown was forced into reshuffling a number of players but he still managed to put out a decent side.

The home side raced into a five-point lead when scrum half JJ Roberts took the ball, darted from the back of a scrum and dived over for a try.

Action from Bourne v Rushden & Higham. Photo by Alan Hancock. (22468703)
Action from Bourne v Rushden & Higham. Photo by Alan Hancock. (22468703)

But up against the elements, Bourne centre Sam Evison sent a difficult conversion attempt just wide.

This sparked Rushden into life and they slowly began to piece together some phases of their own, winning back-to-back penalties that were converted with relative ease to make it 5-6.

Just minutes later, Bourne were penalised again and the visitors added another three points to their lead.

But a concerted effort to improve discipline saw momentum swing back Bourne's way and their forwards once again took a grip on the game.

Prop Sam Cowell made a decent tackle inside the Rushden half and was quick to regain his feet, forcing Rushden into an infringement.

Evison added the resulting penalty and the hosts were within a point of their opponents once again.

In the closing minutes of the first half, Bourne found themselves well inside Rushden territory.

Action from Bourne v Rushden & Higham. Photo by Alan Hancock. (22468632)
Action from Bourne v Rushden & Higham. Photo by Alan Hancock. (22468632)

But despite stringing together a number of phases, the home side had to settle for three points with an Evison penalty.

Then a defensive error by Rushden eventually led to an infringement and Evison added another penalty to give Bourne a narrow 11 - 9 lead.

Bourne regrouped at half-time and a concise team talk by captain Tom Dixon seemed to galvanise the side as they began the second half.

It was Dixon himself who took control as, almost from the restart, Bourne had a scrum on the Rushden five-metre line.

The Bourne pack made light work of the Rushden resistance as they pushed their opponents backwards before Dixon scooped up the ball and dived over for another try.

Evison added the extra two points and Bourne looked far more comfortable with a ten-point lead.

From there, the home side took total control as Rushden tired and the conditions worsened.

Full back Jack Berry reacted quickly to a Rushden mistake as their back line looked to ship the ball wide, before a loose pass ended up on the floor and Berry kicked the ball forward.

As he chased, Berry managed to kick the ball again, this time sending it as far as the Rushden try line before falling on the ball to add another five points to his side's lead.

Evison added the conversion and Bourne were 25-8 ahead.

Sloppy defending by the hosts allowed Rushden to get a try of their own back as a number of tackles were missed and a smple move by the opposition midfield took them straight up the middle of Bourne 22-metre line.

Just a couple of phases later, they had crossed over for a try, with the conversion added.

Minutes after the restart though Bourne found themselves back inside the Rushden 22, but despite significant possession, the hosts failed to force themselves across the final few yards to score another try.

Having utilised a number of breakdowns though, Bourne drew the Rushden defence narrow and Roberts took the opportunity to aim a cross-field kick to Adam Binns who had moved from the back row onto the wing for the day.

As the ball bounced loosely beside him, Binns did well to control the ball with his foot and direct it towards the Rushden try line before he followed the ball and grounded it to extend his side's lead even further.

Evison was on target with the conversion attempt once again and Bourne were now 32-13 in front.

Rushden struck next though with a long-range penalty after Bourne had sneaked offside just inside their own half.

At 32-16 down, Rushden were some way behind but looking more and more confident until Berry added another try in the opposite corner.

Binns scored his second try of the game after making good yards when the ball had been shipped down the line just inside the Rushden half.

As he looked to be heading for the Rushden defence, Binns suddenly changed direction and sprinted for the corner, leaving his pursuing tackler wrong-footed and clutching at thin air.

With both tries right in the corner, Evison was unable to add the conversions and with ten minutes to go, Bourne were 42-16 ahead and looking certain to break the 50-point mark.

Disappointingly though, Bourne handed the emphasis back to their guests for the final ten minutes by conceding ten unanswered points as Rushden crossed in one corner, then the other for the last two tries of the day.

JJ Roberts was Bourne's stand-out player for the second week running and he said: "We weren't at our best today but it was a very different side to the one we've had out recently.

"The conditions made our brand of rugby difficult so it was pleasing to get a big score again.

"But we're also disappointed that we stepped off the gas towards the end and leaked far too many points defensively."

Player-coach Andrew Brown said: "A win's a win and we're pleased with the outcome.

"But we know that we can and should be better.

"We ask ourselves after every game if our performance was enough to beat the best in the league and today there were large parts of it that weren't good enough."

BOURNE: Appleby, H. Thornburn, Cowell, Harby, Brown, Smith, Short, Dixon, Roberts, McHugh, Binns, Evison, S. Thornburn, Warnes, Berry. Subs: Moore, Wallis, Charlton.

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