Far from full strength Bognor sweep past Portsmouth 2nds

George Castleton, pictured on the chase against Gosport 2nds, helped Bognor thump Portsmouth 2nds. Picture by Kate Shemilt.
George Castleton, pictured on the chase against Gosport 2nds, helped Bognor thump Portsmouth 2nds. Picture by Kate Shemilt.

The experiment by Hampshire rugby chiefs to promote the second teams of the county’s biggest clubs to the county's Premier Division at the expense of the first teams of the smaller clubs currently looks ill-conceived after Bognor's 81-12 thumping of Portsmouth 2nds.

Three of the four teams involved continue to struggle to remain competitive.

The bottom three teams, Portsmouth, Gosport & Fareham and Tottonians 2nds, have won just one game each while conceding an average of well over 30 points per game. The only team so far managing to hold their own is Eastleigh, whom Bognor have yet to play.

It was no great surprise then that Bognor, despite being far from full strength, swept aside a brave but ultimately outclassed Portsmouth side while scoring 13 tries, 12 of them by their impressive back-line.

The win consolidates their position of fourth in the table, which is a fair reflection of their rather uneven progress just over a third of the way through the season.

The home side dominated possession from start to finish and, when Jeremy Newton-Young touched down for his second try in the opening five minutes, it looked as if it was going to be a long afternoon for Portsmouth, who had not even touched the ball.

Paddy Burnett flew over for the third following good handling by his opposite winger Shane Stevens. The ever-improving Tom Orchard set off on a storming 30-metre run, allowing Stevens to grab the bonus-point try with only a quarter of the match gone.

Stevens scored his second two minutes later after an exquisite chip through from the evergreen George Castleton. Centre Sam Newcombe displayed strength and speed to scream over for the next try before his co-centre Josh Riggall cruised through for Bognor’s seventh.

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The hapless Riggall, still recovering from a recent hamstring problem, had to leave the field shortly afterwards with a shoulder injury.

Newcombe prevented a breakaway try from the visitors with a great cover tackle before Stevens crossed for his hat-trick, making the half-time score 50-0.

Bognor took their foot off the gas temporarily at the start of the second half and Portsmouth deserved the two tries they scored.

The visitors never gave up and continued to tackle their hearts out. But soon when Dave Sweeney went through a gap for Bognor’s first try of the half.

The fly-half quickly added a second to bring his overall tally for the afternoon to 26 points.

Newcombe scored his second try before Orchard capped a fine performance with a debut try, the only one by a forward all afternoon.

Newton-Young ended the match as it had begun, when he showed a real turn of pace to achieve his hat-trick.

Special mention must go to man-of-the-match Adam Knight, who put in some big hits from the unaccustomed position of second row, and Adam Groome, who had an impressive debut at hooker.

Bognor’s next league game will be a home match against old adversaries Fareham Heathens on Saturday, November 17 (2.30pm).

Bognor: Newton-Young, Stevens, Newcombe, Riggall, Stevens, Sweeney, Toone, Mason, Groome, Cox, Orchard, Knight, Castleton, Burgess(Capt), Bidwell. Reps: Teague, Archer, Bailey.