HEAD coach Will Croker described as a “nightmare game” Bournemouth’s 28-25 defeat at Cleve in South West Premier.

Lions’ pre-match preparations for the encounter were dashed before a ball was even kicked during Saturday’s setback at the Hayfields in Bristol.

The Chapel Gate outfit, who were without regular kickers Grant Hancox and fly-half Adam Davies, saw their travel plans hindered after a closure to the M4.

After a four-hour journey, the delay meant Croker’s men arrived at Cleve at the scheduled kick-off time of 2.30pm and had just 20 minutes before the contest got underway.

Despite leading by nine points at one stage going into the business end of the game, Lions failed to hold on and were left to ponder a three-point defeat.

Croker told the Daily Echo: “It was a nightmare game for us. We didn’t actually arrive at the ground until kick-off.

“It took us more than four hours to get to Bristol because the M4 was shut.

“It wasn’t ideal preparation but, in fairness to the boys, they actually rolled their sleeves up and got on with it.

“I was pleased with the maturity that we showed in that we just had to get on with our jobs.

“We played with a lot of control for large periods and controlled the ball with multiple phases.

“Coming away from it we were disappointed with the result and the preparation.

“I wasn’t disappointed with how we played and, on another day, it would have been enough for us to have won relatively comfortably.”

After a pair of missed penalty attempts from the visitors, Lions fell 10-0 behind following the rushed opening and also lost Jack Hennings to a knee injury.

But when Alex Sutherland slotted home a penalty and Sam Hardcastle’s try under the posts was converted, the visitors went in at the break on level terms.

After falling 13-10 down, another Sutherland penalty followed up by scores for Freddie Gleadowe and Wyn Roberts then gave Bournemouth a 25-16 advantage midway through the second half.

But Cleve roared back in the latter stages to stun Croker’s side and inflict their second league defeat of the season.

And the head coach stressed the lack of regular kicking options had a huge impact on the overall outcome.

“To be honest I am disappointed we didn’t pull away once we had got ourselves nine clear,” he said.

“We are not here to lay the blame at anybody’s door but we missed too many kicks at goal.

“Alex Sutherland and Joe Gwyther were kicking in Grant and Adam’s absence.

“Had we have had one of Adam or Grant – bearing in mind they are both 80 per cent kickers – we would have won the game.”

Lions’ defeat leaves them fifth in the table after five games.

They face table-topping Dings Crusaders at Chapel Gate on Saturday (3pm).