Bourne keep their heads to go top with six straight league win
A disciplined Bourne side scored four tries at home to Spalding, putting them top of Midlands Three East (South).
Twelve months on from being bottom of the same division, Andrew Brown's XV showed character, control and clinical finishing to keep the Elephants at arms' length in what was at times a feisty derby.
With yellow cards shown regularly throughout the game, the first-ever competitive meeting between the two sides - separated by a ten-mile stretch of the A151 - was ultimately decided by chances taken when they presented themselves.
Bourne were slow out of the blocks at Milking Nook Drove as Spalding's backs looked to exploit possession and territory early in the game.
The Elephants' physicality soon brought them a reward when a scrum inside Bourne's 22-metre line led to the ball finding Spalding winger Taylor Crowson who went in at the corner for his side's opening try.
But a conversion attempt by Conall Mason went wide left of the upright and just minutes later, Bourne were able to reduce a five-point deficit to two when fly half Sam Evison kicked a penalty given for a high tackle by Spalding.
It was the signal for Bourne to take control of the game and just before the quarter hour-mark, a lineout was gathered and fed to Evison who raced through Spalding's defence to put his side 8-5 ahead.
Evison finished the job with a successful conversion to leave Spalding reeling, especially as they had made good progress inside their opponents' half, only to come away with nothing.
At this stage in the game, captains Tom Dixon and Dan Adams had to be spoken to by the referee as tempers became increasingly short, with Jack Berry and Sam Harby both sin-binned for Bourne within seven minutes of each other.
But Spalding failed to capitalise on their two-man advantage and when the hosts managed to hold out after a scrum within metres of their try line, a lineout produced a skilful set of plays which ended with centre Sam Thornburn running in for Bourne's second try.
A failed conversion attempt by Evison left Bourne 15-5 up at half-time, having come through a spell of Spalding pressure that saw promising moves break down due to poor passes.
Within five minutes of the restart, Bourne were effectively out of sight after an opportunistic try by Dixon who went on a 30-yard run right through a static Spalding defence.
Evison converted the try as Spalding brought on ex-captain Harry Brown to replace Willis Ingleby in a bid to claw back the 22-5 deficit.
The Elephants' winger Gav Sharman had been starved of ball up to this point before having the chance to test Bourne with his pace, latching onto a pass and sprinting clear, only to be tackled within ten metres of the try line.
Spalding were made to pay for their wastefulness in attack minutes later with Bourne's try of the match, a devastating counter-attack down the left which included several offloads before Berry finally ran in under the posts.
It meant a bonus point for Bourne, having scored four tries in the game, and a 29-5 lead that was cut twice late on with two unconverted tries in the last 15 minutes from Spalding.
Firstly, Wilson Crowson sold a neat dummy to his Bourne marker to run in from 15 yards out and then Ash Anker forced his body over the line after several phases of play by Spalding.
But Bourne kept their lead and laid down a marker to the rest of the league by stopping a six-match unbeaten run in all competitions by Spalding in its tracks.
BOURNE: Appleby, H. Thornburn, Greenwood, Harby, Moore, Cowell, Smith, Dixon, Roberts, Evison, Lynch, McHugh, S. Thornburn, Colangelo, Berry.Subs: Lagdon, Brown, Short.
SPALDING: Turner, Barrett, Waudby, Anker, Templer, Cole, Chappell, H. Sharman, Exley, Mason, T. Crowson, Adams, Ingleby, G. Sharman, Booth.Subs: W. Crowson, H. Brown, G. Brown.
TRIES: Evison, S. Thornburn, Dixon, Berry (Bourne); T. Crowson, W. Crowson, Anker (Spalding).
CONVERSIONS: Evison (3 out of 4 attempts).
More by this authorWinston Brown