After conceding a late flurry of yellow cards, and in the 13th minute of injury time, Bognor’s defence was finally breached as hosts Old Mid Whitgiftians snatched a last-gasp draw in London three south west.
On the face of it, it would appear Bognor were hard done by, both in terms of the length of extra-time played and by some harsh calls towards the end of the game.
On reflection, however, both sides suffered from erratic refereeing and a draw was probably a fair result. The two points gained were just reward for the visitors’ continued improvement in recent weeks.
Bognor made a more solid start than in the two previous matches but, after Rob Parry missed a penalty kick to touch, OMW broke through and only a knock-on near the line prevented them side going ahead. They crossed again shortly afterwards but were pulled back for a foot in touch.
Bognor settled and started playing some rugby of their own. A good attack in midfield petered out when full-back Josh Devitt ran out of support and was penalised for holding on in the tackle.
After 20 minutes, continued pressure by the visitors resulted in a penalty against OMW inside their own 22 for killing the ball. Parry made no mistake with an easy kick to put his side into the lead.
A searing break by ex-Ulster player Devitt put Bognor on to the front foot and Parry kicked his second penalty, awarded when OMW went off their feet at the tackle area.
An incredible last five minutes before half-time saw two yellow cards awarded against the home team for fairly innocuous offences and then two tries - scored, amazingly, by the team with 13 men. Bognor felt aggrieved about the interpretation at the tackle area, but there was no excuse for their loss of discipline and failure to respond to quick tap penalties.
Instead of being 6-0 up at the interval Bognorwere 10-6 down. The old heads in the team ensured there was no panic and a simple game plan was discussed to utilise the wind and slope.
Jack Tompkins reigned supreme at the lineout and Bulgarian prop Vencislav Angelou had a great debut, scrummaging strongly and putting in some big hits. He could be the find of the season.
Man-of-the-match, though, was Harry Dyer for his ferocious tackling, non-stop work-rate and continual turnovers at the breakdown.
OMW started the second half the stronger and were unlucky not to be awarded a try when the referee wrongly decided the ball had been held up over Bognor’s line.
The visitors started to wake up and worked their way downfield to put together some promising phases. Parry kicked his third penalty to put Bognor one point behind but narrowly missed his next two kicks, one easy one from 30 metres and the other a great effort from wide on the halfway line.
Shortly afterwards the Welshman made a clean break and gave what should have been a scoring pass, only to see the overlap wasted through poor decision-making. He duly kicked another two penalties, won primarily by Dyer’s persistence at the tackle area.
Leading by five points and with the match deep into injury time Bognor looked set to achieve their first away victory of the season. But OMW capitalised on the two yellow cards and battered away at Bognor’s line, eventually scoring the equalising try near the left touchline.
This Saturday Bognor entertain London Exiles 2.30).
BOGNOR: Devitt, Riggall, Brock, Burgess, Murray, Parry, Legge, Morgan, Mitchell, Ubsdell, Dove, Tompkins, Balchin(C), Dyer, Flinn. Reps: Angelou, Masters.