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Bournemouth's loan Lion adds bite for Budge
LOAN recruit Joe Atkinson made an immediate impact for Bournemouth by grabbing a last-gasp debut try in this thrilling win – having been registered just hours earlier.
Atkinson completed a temporary move from Championship outfit Cornish Pirates on Friday and quickly ensured his Chapel Gate popularity in a dramatic finale.
With Lions trailing 36-30 to Dings and reduced to 14 men after Alex Sutherland’s sin-binning, Atkinson crashed over before Jack Metters slotted the conversion.
That frantic finish sealed a momentous fightback from the hosts, who recovered from 24-11 down to claim their third win in four National Two South matches.
Director of rugby Budge Pountney told the Daily Echo: “It was a thrilling afternoon.
“When we look back on it, we will probably think that we let them have a couple of easy tries and that put us under a bit of pressure.
“We played a lot of rugby and the players really got stuck in but, at crucial times, we let the ball go or lacked a bit of concen tration. The players dug really deep and came back at the death to secure the win with the last kick, which was fairytale stuff.
“But I am sure that if you were to ask any of the players, they would say they wished they had not put themselves in that situation in the first place.
“It was just a rollercoaster of a game.”
Recalled Ben Stevenson kicked an early drop goal and touched down for a 17th-minute try after Bournemouth University student Metters had booted a penalty two minutes earlier.
But with Dings leading for much of Saturday’s clash, Frazer Wilford, record scorer Sam Hardcastle and Sutherland all went over to give Lions a glimmer of hope, before recent signings Atkinson and Metters combined to stunning effect to hand captain Alan Manning a victory in his 100th match as captain.
Pountney said: “If you were to talk to any coach, they would say it is very tough when you are watching because you can have very little impact.
“You can see certain things from the touchline which, when you on the pitch, you can’t see. It is frustrating and joyful all wrapped up in one rollercoaster of emotions.”
Discussing match-winner Atkinson, Pountney added: “Joe is a player on loan from Cornish Pirates who is coming back from an injury which he sustained in pre-season. He came to us on Thursday for training and he did really well when he came on during Saturday’s game.”
In a further boost for Lions, influential back-row forward Jack Hennings returned from long-term injury to make his first appearance since April 2012.
Lions: Stevenson, Westcott, K Lynch, Chislett, Sutherland, Metters, Hardcastle, Spikings, Wilford, Manning, Fuller, Peart, Hennings, Rees, Hughes. Replacements: Atkinson, Burns, Connolly, McGowan.
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