Rugby: 'Gutted' Pountney rues Bournemouth's late capitulation

Bournemouth Echo: GUTTED: Bournemouth boss Budge Pountney GUTTED: Bournemouth boss Budge Pountney

GUTTED boss Budge Pountney saw Lions capitulate in the closing moments of their home clash with Southend to slump to their eighth consecutive National Two South defeat.

With nine minutes to play, Bournemouth seemed set to stop the rot with a healthy 36-20 advantage and they still led by 11 points when Sam Veneroso was sin-binned with three minutes remaining.

But Pountney’s men could not hold out as a pair of converted efforts cruelly crushed the home side’s hopes at Chapel Gate with the 39-36 reverse leaving Lions crestfallen.

“The boys were very upset by it,” Pountney told the Daily Echo. “They were disappointed because they let Southend back into a game after they had totally finished them off.

“I am gutted for the players, they put everything into it, they had them on the ropes and had done enough to win but, unfortunately, Southend scored more points than us, so they deserved it.

“This league is pretty tight, there are a lot of good players and the teams are strong. You can’t afford to relax and the fact is they kept coming at us.

“Our boys gave absolutely everything but it was all about momentum for them and we couldn’t hold on. This was a lesson for everybody and I am sure that when we look back at it, some players would change how they handled the last five minutes.”

Bournemouth were closing on a memorable victory thanks to a Ben Stewart hat-trick and tries from Gavin Hart and Dan Pollard but disaster struck as resurgent Southend clambered off the canvas to stun the home crowd.

Replacement Alex Harrison, the returning Craig Strachan and winger Danny Cleare all crossed with fly-half Bradley Burr holding his nerve to convert the final two tries, handing his team what had looked an unlikely maximum haul.

Bournemouth, who have failed to record a victory since October 12, have seen themselves plummet from the top of the league to a precarious position just above the drop zone.

However, Pountney insisted his charges must keep the faith.

The director of rugby added: “We have to take the positives from the game. We claimed two bonus points which was what we needed and we played some great rugby. It was another step in the right direction.

“We have asked the players to concentrate on performances.

"Everyone wants to win games but without performing well, you won’t do that consistently.”

On average, Bournemouth have conceded nearly five tries per game, which is the worst record in the division.

Lions now face a challenging away test at Chinnor followed by a vital encounter with fellow strugglers London Irish Wild Geese going into the Christmas break.

Lions: Lynch, Veneroso, Sutherland, Higgins, Stewart, Pollard, Hardcastle (Payne, 71), Terry (Spikings, 73), Vaughan-Edwards, Manning, Hennings (Clarke, 69), Fuller, Rees, Bovett (Wilford, h-t), Hart. Unused replacement: Sanchez.

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