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Dunn full of pride as brave Lions go down to leaders
DIRECTOR of rugby David Dunn could have been mistaken for the winning coach after Bournemouth had lost 43-15 to league leaders Worthing on Saturday.
Despite seeing his Lions slip to a fourth straight National Two South defeat, Dunn was beaming with pride at the final whistle as his team, decimated by injury, pushed the table-toppers all the way.
The Chapel Gate outfit had to contend with the absence of George Drake (flu) and Eddie Edwards (calf strain) before seeing Sam Hardcastle withdrawn through injury after just two minutes.
The Lions battled manfully but were eventually overpowered in the latter stages of both halves with two of Worthing’s tries before the interval coming after Charlie Grace had become the hosts’ latest casualty.
After the break, Bournemouth still made a game of it with tries from Callum Forrest and debutant Rob Payne piling the pressure on the visitors.
And while 17 points in the last 12 minutes eventually saw off Dunn’s men, the Lions chief hailed the performance as one of the best he has seen this season.
Dunn told the Daily Echo: “We were severely depleted but the boys were fantastic and acquitted themselves really well against a team full of professional players. To a man, they all gave everything they had and I am extremely proud of my players.
“To lose such an influential member of the team in Sam so early in the game was a significant blow. But the first 30 minutes were quite even and Worthing knew they were in for a real game.
“Even when they looked like they might get away from us, we just kept battling back and stayed in with a shout until the last quarter.
“Towards the end, they took a penalty instead of running for the line and I think that was a real sign of respect for the way we played. They were worried we were going to mount a comeback.
“We stayed with them all the way and made them look very ordinary for 60 minutes.”
The defeat maintains the Lions’ precarious position in the lower reaches of the league table, just eight points ahead of second bottom Lydney. But Dunn remains upbeat after taking heart from this display.
He added: “We are under no illusions about the task ahead, but we are going through one of the quirks of the fixture list at the moment where we are facing all of the top sides.
“Henley and Hartpury in the next two weeks will be very tough games but our challenge is to stick together, hang in there and stay injury free, because March and April will be the defining months of our season.
“When I look at the last eight games, I see no reason why we can’t win them. We have nothing to fear.”
Lions: Payne (Fitch, 65), Robinson, Connolly (Lynch, 73), Chislett, Stewart, Stevenson, Hardcastle (O’Brien, 2), Burns, Wilford, Manning, Seward, Forrest, Grace (Andrews, 30), Bovett (Peart, 55), Booth.