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Rugby: Proud Budge Pountney delighted to start new era with big win
LIONS director of rugby Budge Pountney admitted he was “tremendously proud” after his side had secured a 42-21 victory over Taunton in his first competitive game in charge.
Ex-Scotland captain Pountney, who succeeded David Dunn in July, claimed Bournemouth's stamina made all the difference after they had started the club's new era with a bonus-point win at Chapel Gate yesterday.
He told the Daily Echo: “To get a bonus point win in our first game of the season was really pleasing. The players did a great job.
“We had asked a lot of questions of them over pre-season and I think our fitness levels told massively. In the last 20 minutes, we tore apart Taunton in terms of energy. As long as we keep doing that, I will be happy.
“We were a bit sloppy at times but will happily take the win.”
Lions went in a point behind at the break having lost skipper Alan Manning, who aggravated a rib injury he had sustained in the pre-season fixture against Sheffield last time out.
But Bournemouth responded with a resounding second-half performance as record try scorer Sam Hardcastle, Dan Pollard, Dan Connolly and Jaryd Robinson all touched down. Lock forward Andy Graesser also managed to secure a debut try following his summer switch from Oakmeadians.
“An old coach of mine always says it takes 60 minutes to break a team down as long as you keep the pressure on,” said Pountney, who played under former British & Irish Lions boss Sir Ian McGeechan during his distinguished career.
“When Sam caught the intercept and ran it in, all of a sudden they broke mentally and our boys got stronger.”
Hardcastle showed his class to put the hosts ahead midway through the second period as he cut off a misplaced pass to finish well from 60 metres out.
Robinson capped the Lions' impressive performance on 71 minutes as he side-stepped his man to break through the line and go under the posts from inside his own half.
With the ball in hand, Bournemouth looked a well-drilled outfit, with some neat offloads by winger Russell Westcott and centre Scott Chislett playing a vital part in setting up the second-half tries.
On his season expectations, Lions chief Pountney added: “We will just have to wait and see. We can't get carried away. It was a good start and we scored some good tries but, equally, we were under the cosh for some stages.
“They are a talented group of players and more importantly than anything, they have got to believe in themselves and mentally prepare for a game. Matches are won with your brain more than anything else.
“It will be back to the drawing board this week to plan and prepare for a different opposition.”
Lions will want to continue their winning start when they entertain London Irish Wild Geese at Chapel Gate this Saturday.
Lions: Pollard, Westcott, Robinson, Chislett, Connolly, Drake, Hardcastle; Carrel, Wilford, Manning, Fuller, Graesser, Hughes, Rees, Hart. Subs: Booth, Sutherland, Terry, R Lynch, Peart.
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