Boston Rugby Club were beaten 23-11 by rivals Lincoln - but the scoreline belies the close nature of the match.
A late try deep in injury time denied Boston a crucial losing bonus point, which the team’s performance certainly deserved.
The Blue and Whites welcomed back several key players, Joe Deamer at prop, Mathew Dean in the second row, Dan Halliday at fly half and Michael Baldwin on the wing.
Playing against the strong wind in the first half, Boston were immediately put under pressure.
For long periods they were forced to put in a serious defensive shift in their own half as Lincoln sought to build a lead to turn round after the half time break.
The whole team were definitely up for the challenge and manfully stuck to their task, as they entered the interval having conceded only one penalty and a try on 12 and 34 minutes respectively.
With the elements in their favour, Boston secured their first points after 11 minutes.
A line out charge down by back row Callum Lawson saw the loose ball seized upon by second row Dean, who sprinted in the corner to score, reducing the score to 5-8.
Buoyed by their score, a penalty from Mathew Bray levelled the scoreboard up.
Lincoln upped their intensity and after a prolonged spell in the home side’s 22, eventually breached the defence out wide to move 8-13 ahead.
A yellow card infringement by Lawson, and a break away try shortly afterwards on 34 minutes, saw Lincoln move 8-18 ahead.
Boston’s spirit remained resolute, and minutes later they earned a penalty, which Bray calmly converted.
This reduced the arrears to 11-18.
It seemed Boston were set for a bonus point, but a late try put paid to that.
On Saturday Boston travel to play Loughborough, the week after they entertain Nottingham Moderns (KOs 2.15 pm).
BOSTON: Deamer, Dowse, Scupham, Dean, Lane, Kemp, Cotton-Betteridge, Lawson, Laidlaw, Halliday, Baldwin, J. Andrews, T. Andrews, Cowern, Bray; Replacements: Costa, Roberts, Neal.