BOGNOR can count themselves desperately unlucky to lose 27-22 in injury time to promotion-challengers Trojans, currently the in-form team in London two south west.
Before the game most home supporters would probably have settled for the bonus point that was eventually achieved but, having come so close to taking all four points, the players were understandably disappointed to miss out at such a late stage.
Already missing several first-choice players Bognor lost Lee Thompson befoe kick-off, as he was forced to withdraw after suffering back spasms.
Far from feeling sorry for themselves, however, the team rallied round to warm the hearts of the large crowd by producing one of their most convincing and passionate displays of the season.
Bognor tore into their Hampshire rivals right from kick-off and were in the lead within two minutes.
Luke Rokotakala carried strongly towards the visitors’ posts. When the ball came back for the fourth time man of the match Rob Parry (pictured) kicked wide into Nathan Archer’s hands and the winger ran around the defence and under the posts.
Trojans hit back immediately as Bognor were caught short on the right-hand side. Trojans narrowed the gap after Parry was penalised for holding on and, shortly afterwards, it was Archer’s turn to save the day when Bognor were again found wanting on the right.
Trojans continued to dominate exchanges for the next ten minutes and put Bognor under pressure.
The result was a penalty to Bognor just 25 metres out, which Parry chipped over to extend his side’s lead to seven points.
Josh Burgess stopped one Trojans attack with a great tackle but, after a speculative kick by the visitors to the right-hand touchline, Bognor were slow to respond and conceded their first try for three matches.
A minute later Trojans had scored again but this time it was a superb effort, and their three-point advantage was a fair reflection.
Captain Lee Balchin was forced off with a recurrence of the knee injury that has blighted his season just before half-time.
Bognor began the second half much as they had started the first – by pummelling away at Trojans’ line. After five minutes of pressure and a succession of attacking lineouts the veteran Steve Dove caught and drove for the line, and Karl Flinn crashed over to restore his side’s lead.
The man of the match was undoubtedly Parry who gave a master-class in scrum-half play. The Welshman, clearly enjoying the service from Flinn, controlled the game with his crisp service and accurate kicking.
Trojans briefly regained the lead after a loss of concentration in the home defence but Bognor responded by establishing a good attacking position inside the visitors’ 22.
Good work by the forwards was completed by Jonny Lang, who put Parry over in the corner. The conversion was a metre wide but, with the game entering the final quarter, Bognor were back in the lead and looking strong.
The hit of the day, possibly of the season, went to Rokotakala. The big Fijian crowd-pleaser, showing his usual lack of respect for his own body, put in a bone-shuddering tackle on his opposite number who did well to stagger back to his feet.
With the match in injury time Bognor looked to have done enough but there was time for one last twist. A knock-on near the home line allowed Trojans to set up one more attack and their centre ran a superb line to fly over under the posts. The bonus point that the Hampshire side gained could yet be vital in their quest for promotion.
This Saturday Bognor travel to Reigatians.
BOGNOR : Brock, Archer, Rokotakala, Burgess, Stevens, Sweeney, Parry, Morgan, J.Burns, B.Burns , Dove, Harding, Balchin, Lang, Flinn. Reps: Broome, O’Connor, Watson