WILL Croker praised the work of Bournemouth’s player-defence coach Mike Pope after Lions’ “sensational” effort to concede just three points in their final game of the season.

Bournemouth ran away with proceedings at Chapel Gate to end their South West Premier campaign with an 11-try rout of the bottom side Old Patesians.

Director of rugby Croker said the work by injured playmaker Pope had been vital in limiting their opponents to single figures.

Croker said: “This season has been a bit of a collective effort and the forwards have done a lot of hard work.

“They have scrummaged hard all season and the lineout has functioned a lot better in the second half and they have got us across the gain line.

“Our defence, which Mike Pope has organised so well for us, has got us really structured and has meant we have had a platform to fight from.

“It is another game where we have only conceded three points.

“We have scored a lot of points – we would expect to – but to still have the hunger and desire in the last game of the season to restrict a team over 80 minutes to scoring just three points is sensational.”

The South West Premier champions had to wait 20 minutes for their first score when Sammy Veneroso sent Freddie Gleadowe over with a long pass but Grant Hancox could not improve.

Wing Adam Higgins got on the end of a move out wide to score number two after half an hour with Hancox adding the extras.

The visitors registered their only points with a long-range penalty from full-back Marcus Raymond for 12-3 following Jack Hennings’s high tackle.

Veteran Sam Hardcastle had the final word of the first half with the first of his four tries just before the break with Hancox making it 19-3.

The bonus point was registered three minutes in when centre Scott Chislett cut a great line and Hancox made it 26-3 before Hardcastle touched down his second.

Back rower Ali Bennett finished off try number six after 52 minutes following openside Ben Russell’s break, with Hancox improving to 38-3.

Hardcastle peeled off a five-metre scrum for number seven and his tenth hat-trick on 59 minutes, with Hancox making it 45-3.

Russell then ripped the ball out of the tackle before lock Harry Leadbeater took it on to set up Hardcastle for his fourth and his team’s eighth, with Hancox marking their seventh half century of the campaign for 52-3.

Hancox then set up Gleadowe for his second after 68 minutes following a break down the wing and passing inside, with Hancox adding the extras.

Higgins burst away from halfway for Lions’ tenth and his second with ten minutes left, with Hancox making it 66-3.

Scrum dominance earned Lions their third penalty try in a season for the first time on 75 minutes, with the kick from Hancox signalling a 73-3 advantage.

There was time for the ball to go through four sets of hands before Veneroso finished off and Hancox improved to fall one point short of 1,000 points for the season.