WILL Croker praised his side’s “enormous amount of heart” despite Bournemouth sliding to their third defeat in as many games back in National Two South.

Lions followed their spirited performance at home against Worthing last week with another three tries, but a ruthless Henley Hawks team put the visitors to the sword, racking up 10 tries to go home with maximum points, including a hat-trick for back-row Sam Lunnon in the 66-24 rout.

Bournemouth director of rugby Croker was realistic after his side’s defeat. He told the Daily Echo: “It was another long afternoon against a highly talented team, who once again showed the ruthlessness at this level.

“I have to credit my side with an enormous amount of heart. At no stage did their heads go down. There is enormous belief that we’re going to come through this.

“We are looking forward to next week and we’re desperate to get points on the board.”

The away team knew that they would be in for a tough afternoon against a side that finished just one point from promotion last season and has aspirations to go one better this time around, as well as a having crippling injury list that robbed them of several key players.

Hawks got off to a flying start as scrum-half Ewan Fenley touched down in the first passage of play. Fly-half Ben Bolster, who kicked well all afternoon, converted to give his side a 7-0 lead that looked ominous for Bournemouth.

Lions tight-head prop George Cotterell added to his team’s injury woes as he was led from the field only a few minutes later and they lost loose-head Mike Davies before half-time to add injury to injury.

Henley commanded much of the first half, scoring four more tries, but Bournemouth remained competitive and Alan Manning crossed for a deserved try on the stroke of half-time, Henley going to the break leading 35-10.

Henley opened the second half in exactly the same fashion as the first, with a try for replacement scrum-half Elliot McPhun inside a minute. A further four tries for the home side rounded off a good attacking performance, though Bournemouth scored twice on 57 and 77 minutes, both through replacement Gwyn Roberts, to salvage some pride.

Henley head coach Luke Allen was full of praise for Bournemouth, singling out scrum-half Liam Driscoll who stepped in on Friday for injured Sam Hardcastle. Allen said: “He looked really threatening. I said to the boys, watch for penalty tap and go, he’s lively around the ruck area.

“He caused a lot of problems so fair play to him. He is definitely something to build a team around and get behind.”

Bournemouth host Tonbridge Juddians on Saturday (3pm).

Lions: Sutherland, Jeffes, Everett-Bolter, Snell, Meaden, Pope, Driscoll, Davies, Manning, Cotterell, Knott, Leadbeater, Bennett, Russell, B Roberts. Reps: Spiller, Firetto, Griffiths, G Roberts.