BOURNEMOUTH will be hoping the lights stay on long enough at Sutton & Epsom on Saturday to claim a much-needed first win in nine games, writes Adam Hunter.

Lions visited their fellow relegation contenders in November, only for the floodlights to fail twice and the game to be abandoned after only 63 minutes of play. At the time of the stoppage Bournemouth trailed 25-20 and were applying huge pressure to their hosts, camped on their try line line in a succession of dominant scrums.

At the time, performance director Richard Sharp was confident that his team’s dominance was going to pay.

“Momentum was with us,” he said.

“It was our five-metre attacking scrum when the lights went out. I was in absolutely no doubt that we were going to win that game.”

Initially, the result was declared, but Bournemouth lodged an appeal on the grounds that the result stands only if bad weather causes an early finish, and after much confusion, the game was annulled and Saturday’s replay ordered.

Having shared such a tense encounter in the autumn, Sharp is confident that his young side can go one better this time, and anticipates an exciting game.

“Both teams play a similar style of rugby so it was a good game to watch (last time), with lots of fast, expansive back play,” he said.

“Our light, mobile, fit pack was certainly tiring out their squad.”

The Dorset side have had to settle for just one draw in their last eight fixtures, their last win coming in dramatic circumstances at home to Old Redcliffians as far back as early December – Grant Hancox’s penalty with the last kick of the game earning his side a one-point victory.

Despite the defeats, they have picked up five losing bonus points this season and will drag themselves off the foot of the table – and leapfrog their opponents – with victory on Saturday.

Sutton & Epsom are on a poor run of results themselves, a 23-17 victory at home to Barnes three weeks ago their only triumph since overcoming the same opponents back in November.

Both clubs will be under no illusions that the next month of fixtures will settle the matter of relegation and survival. The three contenders for the drop – Bournemouth, Sutton & Epsom and Old Redcliffians – all play each other in the coming weeks, finishing with the return of Saturday’s fixture when Sutton & Epsom visit Chapel Gate on March 28th.

When the final whistle goes that afternoon in the spring the fate of each club will surely have been decided. Only victory this weekend will allow the Bournemouth supporters to keep the faith.