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Rugby: Super Sam Hardcastle sets another record as Bournemouth go top
RECORD-breaker Sam Hardcastle hailed Bournemouth’s new style of rugby after his four-try haul had propelled Lions to the National Two South summit.
The Chapel Gate outfit lead the embryonic standings after their second bonus-point victory on home soil, a 45-25 success over newly-promoted London Irish Wild Geese on Saturday.
And once again the game’s stand-out performer was scrum-half Hardcastle who equalled James Flynn’s club record of six career hat-tricks to add to his milestones as top all-time points and try scorer.
Hardcastle, 32, whose association with Lions spans more than 20 years, has scored 726 points and 139 tries in 185 matches in the number nine shirt.
And he insists there is much more to come under new director of rugby Budge Pountney.
Having started out in Bournemouth’s youth set-up as an 11-year-old, Hardcastle has remained loyal to the Lions’ cause with short breaks at Drummoyne in Australia and Malvern while at the University of Worcester punctuating his Chapel Gate career.
Looking back on his remarkable service to Dorset’s top club, Hardcastle told the Daily Echo: “It has been good to achieve so much at my childhood club and I have always loved playing alongside the guys here.
“Most of the enjoyment comes from the people you play with and there has always been an awesome atmosphere at Bournemouth, but this season looks like it could get even better for us.
“Things were great under Dave (Dunn, former director of rugby), but this year has seen a different approach and a real change in the way we do things.
“We have all had to get a lot fitter and there is an expectation to play more expansive rugby in wider areas. We’re looking to attack under Budge and he has brought in a different game plan.
“Last season was difficult because very few of the boys had played at this level. All we could really hope for was survival but we’re aiming a bit higher this season because there is a lot of potential here.
“We have got ourselves well organised and I would expect us to finish higher than we did last season.”
A pair of Hardcastle tries at either end of the first half sandwiched Jaryd Robinson’s 27th-minute effort while Dan Pollard’s perfect kicking of three conversions and a penalty handed Lions a 24-8 lead at the interval.
Karim Lynch grabbed a four-try bonus point while Hardcastle completed his hat-trick on the hour before rounding off the scoring with three minutes to go.
Pollard, who maintained his 100 per cent kicking record after the break, is the league’s top point scorer on 35 while Hardcastle tops the try charts with five.
Lions: Pollard, Westcott, Robinson, Chislett, K Lynch, Drake, Hardcastle, Terry, Wilford, Spikings, Fuller, Peart, Hughes, Rees, Hart. Subs: Bovett, Heffer, R Lynch, Stevenson, Stewart.
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