Bourne First XV beat a combined Stamford side 39-27 in a friendly match between the two clubs at Milking Nook Drove on Saturday.
Originally billed as a Vets fixture, but with some notable absentees away on Mothers’ Day duties, Stamford fielded a combined squad.
With an eclectic mix of youth, experience and plenty of untapped talent on the bench, Stamford skipper Steve Roberts had a tough task finding the right combination to take to the field.
From the off, it was clear this was going to be a physical encounter, with Bourne taking advantage of a centre-partnership that consisted of an ex-Tigers Academy player and a professional body builder.
After just three minutes, a midfield exchange saw Bourne open a hole in the sleepy Stamford defence to score a soft try between the posts and give the visitors a much needed wake-up call.
With a strong Fenland breeze behind them, the restart kick from Macmenemey sailed high and hung long enough to allow the forwards to get underneath it, setting up a strong set piece with scrum half Roberts keen to feed the free running backs. A number of phases took Stamford deep into Bourne’s half but Bourne’s persistence at the fringes led to a turnover, frustrating the visitors.
Stand off Robert Macmenemey and winger Brian Lonslow, with their combined age of 103, linked well with the two youngsters in the centres and it wasn’t long before Ollie Winspear took a switch ball at pace to break the Bourne gain line. The young colt quickly offloaded under pressure to fellow centre Dan Thompson who carried for some hard yards before full back Pip Warters joined the line to create the overlap, putting David Martin in for his first of a hat trick of tries.
Bourne replied with a barrage of aggressive attacks from the forwards and despite some bone crunching tackles from young number 8 Jack Jones and fellow Stamford Schoolboy Angus Collins, the home side managed to bludgeon their way over the try line again before Stamford had a proper chance to gel as a team.
The experienced front row of veterans Jules Bunney, Rich Olsen and Fraser Simpson owned most of the scrummages in the first half, no doubt buoyed by the power and fitness of the new youngsters in the back row, taking several balls against the head as they simply drove the opposition off the ball. Stamford’s old heads proved to be particularly irritating for the Bourne pack as they continually spoiled and stripped their hard won ball.
Bourne did managed to put a few decent set pieces together however, and scored twice in quick succession to take the lead.
Shortly before half time, a loose ball bobbled out of an evenly contested ruck, providing a swift opportunity for Stamford’s Toby Linley to pick and go from just inside his own half. A neat side step from the amply built second row saw him round the Bourne fullback at pace and score, leaving Roberts an easy conversion.
With plenty of changes at half time, Bourne and Stamford traded plays in the centre of the park before a bizarre incident set up another score. As Stamford’s replacement scrum half Freddy Durrant gathered a Bourne kick, he was mistakenly tackled to the ground by a committed Lonslow, his own winger. In the ensuing confusion, a somewhat bemused defence watched helplessly as an offload from Thompson to Kieron Hyne saw him dart from open to blind, outpace the fullback and cantor in under the posts virtually unopposed.
Bourne retaliated with a well placed kick and with the wind now behind them, pinned Stamford into their own 22 for several phases. Only solid defending from forwards Tony Pickford and Darren Bently, prevented further scores from Bourne but eventually, frustration crept in and Stamford were penalised for ill discipline in the ruck.
The resulting quick tap from the Bourne scrum half allowed a break-away that went unchallenged as many of the forwards were within 10 yards, eventually finding space out wide for his wing forward to go over in the corner.
Bourne added a couple more run-away tries to their tally, making it a difficult target to chase but Stamford, still hunting for a win, managed to reduce the deficit with two further tries from David Martin. The second, a superb solo effort, evading six tackles in a 50 metre, jinking run that would have left even the late Bill McLaren short of superlatives.
The final score was a pretty fair reflection of an entertaining match, that gave some of the younger members of Stamford’s squad some valuable experience and game time.