HEAD coach Will Croker revealed how a “frank conversation” during the interval at Brixham had helped put Bournemouth in the box seat to land a play-off spot.

Lions recorded a crucial 31-18 victory at Astley Park and were boosted by South West Premier promotion rivals Maidenhead suffering a shock 34-12 home defeat to Bracknell.

A win against fourth-placed Newton Abbot at Chapel Gate on Saturday would secure Lions' place in the play-offs.

Croker told the Daily Echo: “We knew going to Brixham would be a difficult ask and, in Tom Putt, they have one of the division’s top place-kickers. The guy is unerringly accurate.

“Any minor indiscretion we gave away, he punished. All of the penalties seemed to be given away in our half and he seemed to have the reach on them.”

Despite touching down twice through Sam Hardcastle and Dan Stewart, Lions found themselves 18-15 behind at the break – thanks to six penalties sent over by fly-half Putt.

“In the first half, it was a bit tit-for-tat and it was difficult to shake them off,” said Croker.

“But we had a really frank conversation at half-time which was that we had scored two tries and they had scored none. We knew if we cut out the penalties, we would win the game, it was as simple as that.

“Turning around at the break, at no stage did we feel like we weren’t in control, even though we were losing.”

Lions kept their cool to shut out their opposition in the second period and comfortably record their 16th league win of the season.

Ali Bennett’s try was converted by Grant Hancox, who went on to kick three penalties of his own in the second period to increase Lions’ top-two chances.

Croker said: “To not concede a try against them was sensational and Brixham’s coaching team were very generous in the praise of our defensive organisation.

“We are known as being a team who like to score tries and play attractive rugby. It is quite nice to get some recognition when the guys put in a defensive set like they did on Saturday.”

Maidenhead’s defeat saw Lions move eight points clear in second with two league fixtures remaining.

“We kicked off half-an-hour earlier on Saturday so, when we got back into the changing room, Bracknell were ahead and we thought that couldn’t be right,” added Croker.

“We were fully expecting to watch Twitter and see Maidenhead surge back into it but it didn’t come. We were sitting there scratching our heads. For a team who are so good at home, we couldn’t believe it.

“Now more than ever, we are in a really strong position.”

Lions: Kirkpatrick, Stewart, Gleadowe, Chislett, Everett-Bolter, Hancox, Hardcastle, Spiller, Manning, Firetto, Carkeet, Hennings, Sharp, Bennett, Rees. Replacements: Davis, Fraser, Treloar.