Holders Bourne go out of NLD Cup at quarter final stage after first loss in ten matches
Bourne's defence of the NLD Cup ended with their first defeat in ten matches at Midlands Two East (North) side Market Rasen.
With five players missing from the starting XV that beat Rushden & Higham in the league a week earlier, player/coach Andrew Brown and his side travelled to Market Rasen with nothing to lose.
Bourne dominated the opening five minutes, starving the hosts of any possession and showing signs that they were capable of holding their own.
The early dominance by Bourne was rewarded when they applied enough pressure on the Rasen defence to force their winger into deliberately knocking on in a bid to stem another attack by the visitors.
But this seemed to be the motivation that the home side needed and despite being a man down they quickly grew into the game.
Rasen looked the more athletic and dynamic side as Bourne were made to defend relentlessly, although to their credit Brown's men worked hard to repel a number of strong attacks from their increasingly powerful opponents.
Eventually though a surge from the Rasen pack caused the Bourne defence to become disjointed and with a number of gaps across their back line, the home side launched a powerful burst from the midfield which brought them a converted try.
At this point the game levelled out, with both sides enjoying equal possession and territory.
Rasen looked the more threatening but Bourne's persistent efforts in defence reflected their ambition to compete at the higher level.
But Bourne were dealt an unfortunate blow when scrum half JD Charlton was forced off with injury after just 20 twenty minutes and full back Jack Berry moved to scrum half, while Adam Binns, who was already covering the centres, moved to full back.
The shuffling of Bourne's pack continued as last season's player/coach Dave Maudsley came off the bench.
On a difficult day for rugby, Rasen were unable to finish numerous opportunities with too many errors and this led to a number of set-pieces where Bourne really showed their ability to hold their own.
The front row of Chris Greenwood, Keir Moore and Sam Cowell more than matched their opponents at scrum time and the Bourne pack also secured their own lineouts.
Second row partners Sam Harby and Jason Rushton were both heavily involved in defence, carrying the ball well and providing their side with momentum as they approached half-time.
The result of their efforts were two penalties which Sam Evison, filling in at fly half, converted to take Bourne within a point of their hosts before Rasen added one of their own in response.
Most of the second half was played in much the same way as the first, with both teams unable to add any points as the game entered the final minutes with Bourne just 10-6 behind.
It was then that Rasen's superior fitness started to show and they continued to be the better team in attack.
Crucially, with the conditions favouring them slightly, Rasen began to make fewer mistakes as they made inroads into the Bourne half time and time again.
Centre Sam Thornburn and Josh Lynch were responsible on different occasions for denying Rasen additional tries and the effort throughout the Bourne side was impressive.
But on the hour mark, after a sustained period of pressure, Rasen worked their way into the Bourne 22 and from a lineout in the wettest corner of the field they forced a number of drives towards the Bourne try line.
Rasen eventually slid over for second try and wth the conversion, they went 17-6 ahead.
Then with five minutes to go, Rasen mounted another good attack which resulted in a try, albeit with a degree of luck.
It appeared as if the Rasen attack had come to an end when an awkard pass looked to have been knocked on.
But as the last man reached the Bourne try line, the reality was that the ball had bounced off his legs and the try was therefore awarded.
The game came to an unfortunate end for Bourne with both Evison and Berry receiving yellow cards for late tackles just a minute apart.
After the game, Brown said: "We're enjoying some good form in the league and at the back of our minds there is always the question of just how high we can go.
"This game was proof that we're worthy of being at Midlands Two level and I take nothing away from the guys that filled in today.
"We were missing key players, while others were playing in positions they aren't used to which affected our structure.
"Even so, we ran a good side close and the lads should be proud of themselves.
Maudsley said: "It wasn't the perfect performance by any stretch of the imagination.
"But importantly, even playing below our best, we showed we can compete at the next level.
"We know there are areas to work on and when we reflect on the game there'll be plenty we can learn from Rasen.
"However, it was pleasing that we could continue to implement our own brand of rugby and trouble teams presently sitting some way above us.
"While the result didn't go our way, we knew it would be tough and our agenda was more about testing ourselves and moving forward in the league.
"With more and more players training and playing for Bourne, the club can go from strength to strength and that will be crucial if we're serious about progressing."
More by this authorWinston Brown