In their last home game of the season in division one of the Hampshire League, Bognor scored six scintillating tries, three of them from scrum-half Jack ‘Haystacks’ Hornibrook, en route to completing the double over a determined Isle of Wight side who, despite their 38-21 loss, battled hard from start to finish.
Bognor now have a one-week break before two tough away games against Alton and Solent University, followed by a Sussex Shield semi-final against Hastings on April 19 at Hampshire Avenue.
The visitors looked by far the sharper of the two teams at the start and their backs, hovering on the offside line, put their opposite numbers under huge pressure. Bognor’s lack of intensity was epitomised by the fact that, in the second scrum of the match, a facet they had dominated in their November encounter, they were driven back off their own ball.
After ten minutes the Islanders deservedly took the lead when their centre kicked a 40m penalty. This seemed to be the wake-up call Bognor needed because, just two minutes later, full-back Josh Riggall broke confidently from inside his own 22 to launch the home side’s first attack.
The move was initially halted but quick second-phase ball allowed Jack Tompkins to put Dan Harding through a gap. The big flanker showed a deft sleight of hand and galloped 50m before handing on to Mitch Brock who scored a great try. Lee Shergold converted to put Bognor into a 7-3 lead.
A lack of concentration from the restart handed possession straight back to the visitors and, after winning a clean lineout, their pacy full-back ran clean through for an excellent individual try.
Midway through the half Riggall, in excellent form, broke clear once again from inside his own 22. This time the full-back found Chris Clare in support and the pair exchanged slick passes, allowing Riggall to touch down for his tenth try of the season. Shergold converted to give his side a five-point lead.
The visitors pulled three points back when Armandus Morgan was adjudged to be holding on in front of his posts and Bognor’s three-point lead was looking anything but secure.
With half an hour gone, Bognor at last won some quality possession and Shergold made the most of his first taste of space by showing a clean pair of heels to his opposite number and haring through a gap. The experienced George Castleton was on his shoulder to finish off the move, Shergold’s conversion putting Bognor into a two-score lead.
The Isle of Wight had the final say of the half by scoring their second try after sloppy defensive work by the home side.
Bognor were again under pressure at the start of the second half and, for several minutes, they were battling to preserve their slender lead. Last-ditch tackles by Tompkins and Riggall saved the day, but the latter had to leave with concussion.
The match was still finely balanced when Hornibrook decided to take matters into his own hands and indulge himself with a scoring spree. The youngster’s first was a 60m effort as he beat three defenders with a great individual run.
His second resulted from a well-timed pass by Morgan, Castleton having created the hole by bouncing a defender onto his backside, and his final score was an opportunist try after his forwards had destroyed an opposition five-metre scrum. Little wonder that he was later declared the man-of-the-match.
In between Hornibrook’s tries, the visitors continued to run hard at the home defence only to be driven back by ferocious tackling from Harding. Their only reward in the second 40 was a solitary penalty.
Referee Ciaran Treloar – son of well-known local celebrity Bruce Treloar – had an excellent game throughout.
For Bognor, head coach Steve Dove will be looking for much greater accuracy next time out at Alton.
BOGNOR: Riggall, Stevens, Castleton, Burgess, Clare, Shergold, Hornibrook, Broome, Ubsdell, Angelov, Masters, Barlow, Harding, Brock, Tompkins. Reps: Morgan, Strickland, Satturley.