Bourne Rugby Club delighted with home win
Despite a significant beating just days before and sitting at the bottom of Midlands 4 South-East, Bourne were confident the visit of mid-table Dunstablians was the perfect opportunity to secure their second win of the season.
And so it proved, as they emerged deserved winners, 30-12.
Having made several long away journeys to play the majority of their games, Bourne were looking forward to being back at Milking Nook Drove and were also boosted by starting with one of their strongest sides to-date.
From the first whistle, Bourne applied early pressure on their guests and were quick to take possession of the ball. Having failed to convert pressure into points in recent weeks, Bourne weren't hanging about and after some solid work from the pack the ball was shipped wide and back row Adam Binns converted to centre for the foreseeable future, crossed untouched.
Despite being just inside the touchline, scrum half Sam Evison proved as reliable as ever as he placed the conversion straight between the uprights.
From the restart, Dunstablians settled into some rhythm and despite a solid defensive effort from their hosts, forced their way into the Bourne half. Bourne looked like a side desperate not to concede and threw everything they had at the oncoming attacks.
The pressure initially resulted in a number of penalties, but even then, Bourne continued to repel their opponents. Not surprisingly, they eventually ran out of numbers and Dunstablians crossed for a try of their own. With the kick going wide, Bourne led by just two points.
Bourne looked like a revitalised side and through their energetic approach they continued to dominate the game - the hard work being put into training seemingly paying off at last.
The home side took control of their own line-outs and did just enough to secure their own ball at scrum-time. Assistant coach Ian Knight, filling in for injured vice-captain Chris Greenwood, looked right at home in the front row, dominating the set-pieces and also looking mobile in open play. Knight's forwards followed suit and between them, they put the home side in a position to take control of the game.
Coach Dave Maudsley, at flyhalf for consecutive weeks, clearly benefited from the improved performance of his forwards and with support available at every opportunity, Bourne played a far more structured game than they had in previous outings.
Alternating play between the forwards and the backs, Bourne made some hard yards before camping on the Dunstablians tryline. Several opportunities to score were cut short by some decent defence before fullback Josh Lynch crashed over at side of a ruck to celebrate his 21st birthday. Once again, Evison added the extras to take his side to a 14 - 5 lead.
The Bourne back row, led by skipper Tom Dixon, were as good as ever, but it was the efforts of the tight-five in supporting this that proved to be the difference. Second row Bradley Hiscocks put in a powerful performance alongside his counterpart Keir Moore. Knight was supported by hooker Harry Thornburn and prop Jake Appleby, later voted joint Man of the Match, with Dixon.
Thanks to the effort of his pack, Evison was able to extend the lead further; unable to cope with the Bourne forwards, the Dunstablians pack gave away a number of penalties and Evison knocked two over in the lead up to half-time.
At 20-5, Bourne looked set to get the result they wanted, but their performances in the second 40 of some games has seen results slip away from them, so nothing was to be taken for granted.
Bourne were against the conditions in the second half and also appeared to be on the wrong side of the referee during the opening 10 minutes of the second half. Dunstablians enjoyed the lion's share of possession and territory, but Bourne were resolute in their defence and worked tirelessly at keeping their guests the right side of the tryline.
After a period of sustained pressure, the visitors finished some simple rugby with their second try. Just yards wide of the upright, the conversion was added with ease.
Bourne weren't phased by conceding another try and it was clear, as they restarted, that they were in a position to see out the game despite there being 30 minutes left on the clock.
Bourne looked the more disciplined side for the bulk of the second half and quickly reverted to their structured style of the first half. The forwards led the side forward with some dynamic running and offloading before giving their backs a fantastic platform by recycling the ball over a number of breakdowns - having waited patiently for several phases, the Bourne backs were in a position to then attack wide or once again make use of their forwards, a luxury that has been missing this season.
Evison added another penalty to stretch the lead once again. The game to-ed and fro-ed in the final quarter and despite some real endeavour from the away side, they never looked like getting on equal terms with their hosts. Frustrations boiled over in the dying minutes and both hookers were yellow carded for fighting, although neither appeared to actually throw any punches.
The icing on the cake for Bourne came with the final try of the day. Maudsley ran a simple move across his backline before delivering the ball to Lynch. Lynch made several metres, attracting a number of the opposition backline as he did, before he then fed Binns who had tracked on his inside; Binns threw a dummy before outpacing the remaining defence to go down under the sticks for his second try of the day. Evison added the conversion, taking his personal tally to 17 points for the day.
Maudsley was understandably pleased: "I don't want to get carried away because that would suggest our performance today was unusual; but the bottom line is that is the way we can, and should, play every week. We know we have it in us, but things haven't gone our way so far but we have to continue working hard and we have to believe we can change that at some point".
Maudsley was particularly buoyed by the performance of his forwards "The pack were fantastic today. They're working hard at training and taking what they're practising into games - they all put in a performance today and it was clear that we were a much better side for it".