HEAD coach Will Croker likened Bournemouth’s pulsating play-off clinching 51-47 triumph over Newton Abbot to a “game of basketball”.

A staggering 14 tries were recorded at Chapel Gate as the hosts showed their character to cement second spot in South West Premier with a game to spare.

Victory means Lions will visit either Barnes, Guernsey or Tring from London & South East Premier on Saturday, April 28, for a chance to be promoted to National Two South.

Reflecting on the victory, Croker told the Daily Echo: “It was ridiculous. Both teams attacked with real purpose and vigour.

“We made way too many unforced errors, especially from kick-offs, which never allowed us to build a lead.

“It was almost like a game of basketball where you go down the other end and get your shot at scoring.

“I found myself swaying between rejoicing at some incredible rugby at times and bashing my head against a brick wall because of some stupid things.

“For the neutral and spectators they must have left thinking they had seen an incredible game.

“We had a big crowd on Saturday and for the teams to play like that and be applauded by the crowd was great. In terms of an advert for Bournemouth rugby, it was fantastic.”

Despite visitors Newton Abbot crossing four times during the opening period, a first-half brace of tries from scrum-half Sam Hardcastle as well as Dan Stewart touching down saw Lions hold a 27-26 lead.

Both teams continued to pile on the points following the break with second-half touchdowns coming from Bournemouth’s Ali Bennett and Freddie Gleadowe.

Remarkably, a try-scoring second-half treble from the Devon All Whites saw them open up a two-score advantage with 10 minutes remaining.

But Lions roared back with touchdowns from Scott Chislett and Jack Hennings – the latter being converted by Grant Hancox – to earn them a crucial four-point victory.

Croker added: “It was a crazy afternoon. By the time it had got to the end you thought anything was possible.

“There were all sorts of different emotions. Of course I was incredibly proud of the way we stuck at it. Whatever they threw at us we seemed to have an answer back, which was amazing.

“The final 10 minutes were a testament of the want and desire of the boys to get past the post. There were some incredible individual performances.

“We tried to forget about the play-off spot beforehand, we even tried to forget about the win. We said ‘let’s just go out there and perform, if we really perform then the result will look after itself’.

“At the end of the game, from an attacking perspective, we had done that. We made errors without the ball but with it we looked clinical and a real threat.

“The first thing was it was a job well done, the second thing was the relief that we have the play-off confirmed. You look at the table now and it has a very different slant to it.”

Lions are 13 points clear of both Newton Abbot and Maidenhead having won 17 of their 25 league fixtures this season.

They make the trip to Newbury Blues in their final regular league fixture of the campaign on Saturday (3pm).

Lions were beaten 27-21 at Chapel Gate by Newbury on the opening day of the campaign back in September.