Bognor 96 Fordingbridge 7
Hampshire League division one
Ruthless Bognor produced their finest display in many years to secure a remarkable victory over rivals Fordingbridge.
Bognor lost influential young scrum-half Same Newcombe to a recurring hamstring injury and Tom Watson was brought into the side at late notice. Then an administrative blunder meant Bognor were ready for kick off half an hour before Fordingbridge.
When then game eventually kicked off Bognor began as they meant to go on. Referee Dave Sainsbury rewarded Bognor’s patience, discipline and organisation in defence and soon Bognor recovered the ball. Shane Stevens settled the nerves with Bognor’s first score, hacking through and letting his pace do the rest.
Fordingbridge mounted an attack of their own but Bognor’s defence held firm and Nathan Archer forced a knock-on at exactly the right moment. Bognor quickly spun the loose ball wide through Chris Clare and Stevens. Irishman Patrick Gibbs finished the 80m try in style with a chip and chase beyond the full-back.
Bognor’s set-piece was outstanding all afternoon. Archer showed all his skills to steal a lineout. Jack Hornibrook, returning to the side after injury, looked to be through after some slick handling but he fell short of the line.
The front row was bolstered by the gigantic second-row combination of Chris Webb and Jumbo James. Bognor’s pack completely splintered the Fordingbridge scrum, allowing No8 Jack Tompkins to sneak over the line.
Fordingbridge got their solitary score of the game. A rare piece of ill discipline gave them a platform and their scrum-half pounced for a converted score.
Bognor turned up the tempo and produced incredible attacking rugby. After a succession of phases Webb got his hands on the ball. He bowled over three defenders and used the 40m of space in front of him as a runway, powering through the Fordingbridge full-back as he went under the posts for his first Bognor try. Mike Calton converted.
A further try followed from Chris Clare after a delightful set-piece move.
Bognor began with a points difference gap of more than 100 points between themselves and league rivals Millbrook so they went out to take every point on offer in the second half. Dan Brock was first over the line with a superb finish, coming in off his wing to barge over two defenders.
Clare scored his second after neat interplay between Brock, Hornibrook and Tompkins as rapturous support from Bognor’s home crowd spurred their side on.
After a small but unnecessary altercation Bognor found themselves with only 13 men on the field. Archer and Ben Burns, not to be outdone by brother Joseph, found themselves in the sinbin for their part.
Remarkably, Bognor scored three tries during this ten-minute period thanks mainly to their patience and discipline in defence. The rugged Mark Ubsdell locked himself over the ball at exactly the right moment to win a textbook turnover.
A bone-crunching hit from Lee Balchin forced a knock-on. From the scrum, Gibbs broke to the right and relied on his magical right boot to chip over the cover defence. The ball sat up neatly over the goal-line and the Irishman had his second try.
Brock went on a fine individual run and gave a scoring offload to Josh Burgess who looked exhausted after a 40m sprint to the line. Webb doubled his try tally when supporting another Brock break, crashing over for a converted try.
The sin-binned duo returned and Bognor put their foot on the gas. Gibbs secured his hat-trick when the ball was turned over near the Bognor line. Unbelievably Gibbs gathered another successful chip and chase then outpaced the full-back for a converted try.
Colt Darren Bidwell replaced Jumbo James and veteran Tom Watson replaced Stevens. Watson scored almost immediately. Although lacking pace in his elder years, the wizardly utility back danced around the covering Bridge defence.
Bidwell helped himself to a score of his own. A neat turnover and kick from Archer put pressure on Fordingbridge. Bidwell, built like a small lighthouse, commanded the ball in the air and fell over the line.
Fordingbridge kicked off again and the Bognor crowd were treated to a moment of comedy and skill. Tompkins caught the kick-off and burst through the line. The captain is notoriously useless in open space and, in panic, threw a series of ridiculous dummies that seemed to bewilder, rather than fool, the covering defence.
For the second week in a row, Tompkins was relieved the find his old chum Ubsdell in support, who had the necessary speed to finish the job.
Gareth Thomas was introduced and made an immediate impact with several big carries. A final try followed for Hornibrook after yet another long-range break from Brock.
Bognor celebrated and will hope for another big performance against Farnborough this Saturday. With the league and cup both within reach, Bognor could finish the season with a double.
All support is welcome for the 2.15pm kick off and for the Six Nations matches that will be shown in the clubhouse.
BOGNOR: Ubsdell, B Burns, Angelov, Webb, James, N Archer, Balchin, Tompkins, Gibbs, Calton, Stevens, Burgess, Clare, D Brock, Hornibrook. Thomas, Bidwell, Watson.
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