Bognor were hungry for a win in a fixture that has caused more upset than happiness for them down the years – but just missed out, losing 30-25.
The visitors started well and after several hard carries from George Castleton and Chris Webb, Bognor looked to be on the charge. But after infringements at the breakdown the home side secured a penalty in front of the sticks to go 3-0 up.
Shane Stevens’ warriors picked up the pace and a clean line breaks from Dave Sweeney ensured good forward ball in the midfield and forwards Adam Knight and Nathan Archer turned the screw.
Joshua Burgess and Chris Clare linked up in midfield and a three-on-one break appeared against the hosts’ full-back. Clare passed to debutant Paddy Burnett, who dotted down in the corner after showing pace and finishing ability. It was 10-3 after Sweeney slotted the conversion.
Bognor’s lack of discipline began to bite them. Tom James attempting the steal the ball in the breakdown and being unsuccessful meant Milbrook had an easy kick to the corner. The driving maul led to the home side scoring in the corner to make it 10-10.
Simple errors in handling and tackling led to Millbrook scoring after breaking through the bewildered Bognor backline.
Joshua Riggall’s face said it all and Bognor were 17-10 down.
Prop Aaron Cook and lock James Barlow were making an impact, Ben Burns began to throw heatseekers in the lineout and hit Archer at four... and Bognor perked up.
But a lineout fumble saw Millbrook break free only for James to prevent a try.
The end of the first half saw Millbrook score another converted try for a 24-10 lead. Ryan Power was introduced at hooker and linked with Newcombe to ensure quick recycled ball.
Webb produced superb carries on the shoulder of Sweeney and Millbrook were beginning to look tired.
Quick hands from Burgess and Clare meant Stevens could finish in the corner, Sweeney missing the conversion – 24-15 the score.
The Bognor pack began to show excellent scrummaging. Quick ball provided by Castleton at the base helped Sam Newcombe ease into the game, showing his talent with magical passing and footwork. Power finished impressively to lift the Bognor spirits.
Power was replaced by Jack Hornibrook and the winger took an almost-impossible grab from the Bognor kick-off. Adam Knight chopped at the ankles of the Millbrook attack and confidence was building. But the No10 nudged a drop-goal to make it 27-20. Bognor struck back with Burgess passing to James who finished in the corner comfortably – 27-25. Bognor battled away but Millbrook converted another penalty to make it 30-25.
Knight said: “We battled hard and we’re all going to be feeling it in the morning. They will not enjoy the return fixture.”
Bognor host Sandown & Shanklin this Saturday and would love to see a big crowd present.
Bognor: Cook, Burns, James, Barlow, Webb, Archer, Knight, Castleton, Newcombe, Sweeney, Stevens, Burgess, Clare, Burnett, Riggall,