BOURNEMOUTH’S late rally proved not enough as they were beaten 28-25 by league leaders Exeter University in South West Premier.

Defeat was Lions’ first reverse in the division this season, writes Doug Warren.

Despite early Bournemouth pressure at Topsham, turning the ball over enabled the Uni to clear up field. A Lions handling error inside their 22 meant the Uni were over to lead 5-0 after just eight minutes play.

Bournemouth maintained the pressure but still found progress difficult in the face of the Uni defence. Left wing Oli Grainger-Williams had a run but the ball was lost forward just 10 metres out from the hosts’ line.

The Uni scrum was forced to concede a penalty and Grant Hancox made the score 5-3, 22 minutes into the game.

Another successful penalty attempt restored the home side’s five-point advantage before the hosts extended their lead further.

With Lions losing the ball out wide, the Uni punished the visitors by running the ball back, where there was no organised defence, and it was all too easy for the threes to run the ball in for the Uni to lead 16-3.

Another three points from the boot of Hancox helped Lions chip away at the deficit but Exeter were soon in once again.

The referee brought play back to an earlier Bournemouth infringement for a Uni scrum on the half-way line. That set up a beautiful running attack to which Bournemouth had no answer and the left-wing scored in the right-hand corner.

The hosts’ fly-half kicked the goal and his side led 23-6 at the break.

Bournemouth were far from out of this game, however.

Grainger-Williams had a couple of runs but was bundled into touch just short of the line each time.

Full-back Ben Meaden did well to deal with a couple of kick and chases, as the Uni looked to extend their lead.

Eventually, Bournemouth found themselves defending a line-out on their own five-metre line. The Exeter drive secured their bonus-point try but the kick was missed to leave the score at 28-6.

Lions struck almost immediately. From a line-out inside the Uni 22, the forwards’ drive almost saw them in but patiently they kept the drive on and eventually crossed the line for blindside Ben Kimber to score.

Hancox kicked the goal to reduce to 15 points the deficit and, from off a line-out, Hancox kicked high, and the chasers won the ball back.

Markus Burcham found himself in space wide out left and the fly-half was over for his debut try to leave the score at 28-18.

The Uni threatened from the restart but in trying to recover the ball from a kick, they knocked it on for a Bournemouth scrum on the half-way line. Attacking right, the Bournemouth forwards drove for the line and Kimber scored once again.

Hancox kicked the goal to make the score 28-25 and Bournemouth had earned a losing-bonus point.

There was barely time to restart the match before the referee blew for full-time.