Bognor’s first XV started at Pulborough with 25 first-teamers enjoying their first outing of the season.
In a hard-fought first half, the quality of both sides was surprisingly high. The game flowed at a fast pace and the movement of the ball was quick.
Bognor scored after 20 minutes from a three-phase move straight from the training field which ended five metres short of the Pulborough line.
From the ruck, prop Graham Broome came round the corner with support to crash over the line.
There was a further 40 minutes of mainly Pulborough pressure in which they squandered a few clear chances, coupled with very good Bognor defence.
Pulborough broke the Bognor line with a well-worked try in the corner to make it 5-5.
Frantic rugby saw both teams with chances to snatch the win. The intensity was demonstrated by Bognor losing hooker Mark Ubsell with a knee injury, scrum-half Jack Hornibrook to a groin problem and second-row Jacob Masters with a broken nose.
Captain Jack Tompkins and new coach Martin Broome said it was a good start and were happy with the buzz around a squad with an average age of 23.
A week later, Bognor travelled to Burgess Hill and were met by a massive and powerful pack. The home front row were strong and experienced and outgunned the Bognor scratch front row, which had changed from the week before through availability and trials.
Bognor put Hill under pressure from the off, but were countered by the hosts’ strength around the ruck and scrum.
Bognor’s first breakthrough came from a cheeky grubber kick through the defensive line by centre Josh Riggall and winger Shane Stevens speed, resulting in a score under the posts converted by Lee Shergold.
The referee then awarded a penalty try and yellow-carded scrum-half Peter Houston, which even surprised Burgess Hill.
Bognor countered and scored a fantastic try by centre Riggall who ran a sweet line through the defence under the posts and saw the try converted.
Then the power of the Hill pack began to tell. The No8 ran the show with Bognor playing catch-up.
With the referee still seeing things no-one else did, Hill scored two tries.
It was good to see Bognor finishing with a try from Riggall.
Coach Broome was impressed with the squad’s work-rate and commitment, reinforcing the good feel around the squad.
The first Hampshire League game is at Fareham Heathens next Saturday, September 13, and Petersfield are the first opposition at Hampshire Avenue a week later after a club luncheon. All support welcome.