Given the history of results between Regional Two North West leaders Bowdon and hosts Douglas, a see-sawing epic was probably odds-on.
The Douglas team re-shuffle after Luke Hyland’s injury at training on Thursday barely registered as they roared into a 10-0 lead after 20 minutes of play at Port-e-Chee on Saturday.
Winger Kyle Martin finished off the forwards’ groundwork and centre Bradley Bowmar’s incision. Luca Simmons added the conversion.
The Douglas pack were giving their opposite numbers a first-half roasting in the tight, perhaps deserving more than a 39-metre Simmons penalty for a deliberate 30th-minute Bowdon knock-down in midfield.
Bowdon scrum-half Will Leaver then touched down in the wake of a Douglas error, with Terrence Longworth converting and tagging on a penalty to bring Bowdon level.
Simmons again converted a penalty for 13-10 as Craig McGee carried with venom and at least rewarded a commanding Douglas scrummage.
Leaver squeezed through for his second try after a momentary Douglas lack of concentration, and Longworth’s conversion at the second attempt put Bowdon in front 13-17 at the break.
Simmons fashioned lengthy line kicks and Liam Kirkpatrick and Simon Hoddinott thundered en-masse in the loose to set up position in Bowdon territory.
Skipper Blake Snell drove on to score and Simmons converted for 20-17, only for Douglas to concede a needless penalty for obstruction which handed Longworth a crack from distance for 20-20.
Douglas pulled out the siege gun in response as Snell called up Sam McCord for a 47-metre penalty attempt, and it boomed over for 23-20.
Flanker John Dutnall was introduced off the bench for an ailing McGee, and Douglas lock Seth Waterworth pocketed a high ball with replacement Bowdon, back-row man Lewis Kitchiner, homing in.
The collision left Kitchiner floored as the upright Bowdon challenge went unpenalised and, moments later, Longworth converted a penalty for a duplicate of the first half knock-down as referee consistency ruled for 23-23.
Douglas front-rower Rob Todd unleashed a rumble as Douglas flooded forward, and Simmons converted a nerveless 60th-minute offside penalty for 26-23, only for the scoreline to unravel in the 76th minute.
Bowdon number eight Nathan Ovien burst upfield from halfway and as the Douglas cover zeroed in, found winger Luke Rink on his shoulder to score under the posts.
It was for Douglas a fifth and hardest-earned losing bonus point and a season’s best performance in ninth, while Bowdon slipped to second with a first-time failure to secure a try-bonus point this campaign.
Douglas: Simon Hoddinott, Rob Todd, Owen Carvin, Liam Kirkpatrick, Seth Waterworth, Blake Snell (captain), Craig McGee, Percy Hampton, Spencer Cope, Luca Simmons, Bradley Bowmar, Sam McCord, Kyle Martin, Guy Barrons, Josh Duncan, Jack Loughnane, John Dutnall, Cal Dentith.