MIDHURST have serious promotion prospects borne out by an impressive record of recent wins, so their first-half performance at Bognor left a lot of puzzled spectators speculating whether or not the wheels had suddenly come off the train.
But they did improve and went on to register a 31-11 win to keep up their Sussex two west challenge.
A late kick-off, coupled with frigid weather conditions resulted in a slow and congested first half, mainly orientated around the pack, with multiple reset scrums as well as infringements around the breakdown.
This exploited discipline issues within both camps and it was not long before penalties were awarded. Bognor managed to convert these into points, gaining a six-point lead, whilst one or two key absences took their toll on Midhurst.
What little open play there was saw some penetrating runs from Martyn Tilling, Harry Opperman and Mark Chandler. However, Midhurst had their work cut out when they conceded a yellow card at 17 minutes.
Blitz defence and a string of bone shattering tackles from James Catt and Matthew Walken ensured Midhurst did not concede points whilst a man down.
An animated half-time talk from Andrew Down and an early unconverted second-half try from Bognor gave Midhurst the kick-start they needed. With this new hunger for victory, a different Midhurst team restarted the game
A reformed Midhurst scrum began to work as a unit supplying better ball to scrum-half Steve Adams. This improved cohesion was reflected in the backs play as centres Will Bradley and Chris West started to break the gain line.
At 11-0 down, Midhurst were in desperate need of some points, and these came from fly-half Sam Ford, who utilised speed and strength to break through and score.
Dan Armistead, Simon Fey and Dean Marks came on and Midhurst began to dominate the game.
The confidence and discipline built but unfortunately, there were also some scrappy intervals that saw both Midhurst and Bognor players in the sin bin, reflecting the depth of feelings on the pitch.
Despite some good play by Bognor almost resulting in a try, Midhurst shrugged off every attack.
Bognor came closest with a line break on the Midhurst 22-metre line, but Bradley managed to win the pace race and made a try saving tackle on the Midhurst five-meter line.
With their goal of another promotion-enhancing win in sight, the floodgates opened and a string of Midhurst tries from Chandler, Opperman and Bradley rained down set Bognor heads sagging.
Adams showed consistency from the kicking tee as well as the back of the breakdown and converted all four tries, plus a penalty to complete a fine comeback.