After what might politely be described as a chaotic build-up, Bognor RFC’s third team secured victory in the West Sussex RFU Vase final against a very good and determined Littlehampton XV.
The squad that finally assembled for the match was an excellent combination of experience and youth. Considering they were without a large number of experienced players, the squad was still strong and more than capable of securing a win against a good team from the league above.
After two changes of venue on the day, Bognor kicked off at Chichester College against the wind but were soon on the attack, with the forwards making some fantastic carries and the backs, again marshalled fantastically by young Frankie Jolly looking to make ground whenever possible.
The first 15 minutes set the tone with both sides’ attackers being met by equally determined defenders. Bognor’s scrum was performing stongly, giving a very stable platform. Eventually Bognor secured their first try when Karl Flinn went over in the corner after excellent work by the forwards.
Littlehampton came back strongly and with their excellent scrum-half bringing some of their big runners into play, they spent a good amount of time in the Bognor half. Fortunately Bognor’s first up and cover tackling was spot on.
Despite the pressure, Littlehampton’s only reward was a penalty, which had to be retaken after the first attempt was missed.
More strong attacks from both sides were snuffed out by excellent defence, but after concerted pressure, a lineout found its way into the hands of Flinn about 5m from the Littlehampton try line.
Head down, he charged into the Littlehampton winger and scrum-half, knocking them out the way to touch down to give Bognor a 10-3 lead.
The second half followed a similar pattern with both sides attacking strongly through forwards and backs, but being unable to turn pressure into points.
Gradually Bognor began to build the pressure but still the killer try wouldn’t come. A couple of wayward shots at goal did nothing to calm the nerves of the Bognor supporters and coaches.
With about 15 minutes to go, Bognor introduced debutant Harry Oliver on the left wing and it was he, with only a few minutes left, twisted his way to the line to secure Bognor’s third try and make it 15-3, which is how it stayed until the end.
Overall it a very tough game against a well-drilled side who had Bognor under pressure for long periods.
Man of the match was Flinn, who along with his two tries made a huge amounts of hard yards and tackled ferociously, but everyone put in a performance to be proud of, with one or two catching the eye of watching first-team coach Billy Toone.
A big shout-out goes to Littlehampton, who can be proud of their performance and who have a good crop of young players coming through.
Thanks also go to the large number of Bognor supporters who were present. The noise near the end when Bognor secured a penalty was unbelievable and gave the players a big lift.
The Sussex Vase final is scheduled to take place on Saturday, March 30 and will be against either Crowborough threes or Uckfield twos.
Bognor thirds are at home this Saturday against Brighton Sea Serpents. With five league games left the equation appears simple – win all five games and they should secure the title.