BUDGE Pountney defended the decision to focus on the future yesterday after missing Bournemouth’s last-ditch 33-29 defeat at relegation rivals Dings Crusaders.

Head coach Paul Dunne was tasked with directing operations from the touchline while Pountney was on a scouting mission, taking in Wimborne’s home match with Frome in Southern Counties South.

Trailing 26-7 at half-time, Lions nearly pulled off a remarkable recovery in Bristol after four tries inside half an hour handed them a 29-26 lead at Landseer Avenue.

However, Scott Chislett was sin-binned with six minutes to play and Bournemouth failed to hold on with Joshua Lloyd scoring a match-winning try for Dings in the dying embers.

It was another bitter blow for the beleaguered Chapel Gate outfit as the defeat left them 10 points from safety in National Two South on the back of 11 consecutive league defeats.

But former Scotland captain Pountney, who took over the hotseat from David Dunn during the summer, claimed Lions were still a side in transition and insisted the tide would eventually turn.

Explaining his absence, Pountney told the Daily Echo: “It is very important for us to start planning for next year and to do that we need to get out there and have a look at all the local teams.

“We (the region’s rugby clubs) have to work with rather than against each other to try to get the top players together, playing the highest standard possible. There is a lot of talent out there and it would be great to get them all into one team.

“It is easy, particularly when things are not going well, to only focus on what is in front of you and when you fall into that trap, it is easy to fall behind. I have every confidence in my coaching staff and that is how we run things.”

Reacting to Lions’ latest setback, Pountney added: “Nobody likes to lose but that is the position we are in at the moment.

“It is difficult to take because they are not bad players, they are just struggling to get over the line at the moment. The important thing is that we keep developing and things will change – the thing with sport is that you never know when it will happen.

“People will criticise because everyone looks for immediate success but you can’t change everything at once and, sometimes, you have to take a couple of steps back when you are changing systems and processes.

“Things can falter a little to begin with but every team has to go through it. You can’t just carry on along the same lines all the time or it begins to tire.”

Lions: Westcott, Higgins (Metters, 59), K Lynch, Chislett, Stewart, Drake, Hardcastle, Spikings (Terry, 52), Wilford, Manning, Scott, Fuller, Bovett (R Lynch, 45), Vaughan-Edwards, Rees. Unused subs: Grace, Sutherland.