A young and spirited Bognor side were unable to gain revenge for their narrow home loss to Millbrook earlier in the season and went down 41-22 away to the Southampton side in division one of the Hampshire League.
With an average age of just 22 in the Bognor squad, ill-discipline around the breakdown and basic errors cost them dear but they will be delighted with the style and tempo they produced at times, resulting in a four-try bonus point.
Bognor began well and the front row of Graham Broome, Mark Ubsdell and Armandus Morgan were outstanding and some strong runs in the midfield gave the back line a great platform
Shergold received quick ball and dinked a delightful cross-field kick for Shane Stevens. The burly winger hared after the ball and dotted down over the line for what Bognor thought was an excellent opening try. Unfortunately, the referee pulled play back, awarding a penalty to Millbrook, having deemed Stevens to be marginally offside.
Millbrook’s fly-half punished Bognor’s silly errors and ill-discipline around the breakdown with five successful penalty kicks from a range of distances.
Bognor felt they had been playing the better rugby and they were rewarded with the first try. Lofty second-row partners Henry Strickland and James Barlow disrupted a Millbrook lineout just inside the home side’s 22. Scrambling to clear their lines, Armandus Morgan charged down the clearance kick and showed a good turn of speed to dive on to the loose ball over the try line.
Delicate hands from Dan Brock and a short crash ball from returning No8 Ainsley Howard produced clean ball. Scrum-half Jack Hornibrook chipped a box kick behind the defence for Tompkins to chase but the ball was well collected by Millbrook’s winger, who eluded the chasing defence to sear 80 metres unopposed and score under Bognor’s posts.
The Bognor front row were relentless in their efforts and were rewarded with a penalty. Hornibrook tapped quickly to Shergold, who in turn found Burgess, taking full advantage of the broken field with a thunderous angle to score beneath the posts. Shergold converted.
When Millbrook made a mistake under pressure at the breakdown, Shane Stevens made up for his earlier infringement by using his footballing skills to control the ball over the try line and outpace the scrambling defence to score. Bognor went into half-time 22-17 down.
Within 30 seconds of the restart, Bognor conceded another penalty within the range of the Millbrook kicker. A rare miss from the fly-half let them off the hook.
A comedy of errors from the young side spoon-fed Millbrook another easy try. Hornibrook did well to deal with a scrappy ball off a lineout but confusion in the backs saw the ball go loose, snaffled by a grateful Millbrook half-back who went on to score under the posts.
Chris Clare and Hornibrook raced up the touchline from kick-off only to be stopped. The ball was recycled to Shergold, the fly-half dummied and waddled his way over the try line from 25m out to complete a excellent team try.
Millbrook earned a scrum in the visitors’ 22 and a well-worked back row move saw their winger crash over for a third try. Mitch Brock replaced Jack Tompkins to join brother Dan on the field. Ricky Hunt replaced Lee Shergold after he twisted an ankle.
The fresh legs spurred Bognor into life. Broome and Morgan continued to battle and Harding, Ubsdell and the Brock brothers led Bognor’s defensive effort with superb tackling.
After ten minutes of sustained pressure, Millbrook conceded a penalty five metres out. Hornibrook spotted an opportunity but was unable to repeat his earlier success, this time penalised for not releasing.
Millbrook earned a bonus-point win when their hooker fell over the line after excellent continuity and offloading across the pitch.
After a poor performance in the away fixture, Bognor look to overturn Overton at Hampshire Avenue on Saturday (2.30pm).
BOGNOR: Morgan, Ubsdell, Broome, Strickland, Barlow, Harding, Tompkins, Howard, Hornibrook, Shergold, Burgess, D Brock, Clare, Stevens, Riggall. Reps: M Brock, Hunt.