Bognor laboured to a 22-7 victory over Ellingham and Ringwood on Saturday, extending their unbeaten run to nine games in division one of the Hampshire League.
They now face a showdown with second placed Fareham Heathens on Saturday in their final fixture before Christmas.
More than 200 people attended the annual club Christmas luncheon and, with the all three senior sides playing at home, there was a feast of rugby in the afternoon.
The first XV started well and appeared to have learned from mistakes made against Sandown & Shanklin. Patient and controlled defending saw them claim a penalty after a number of tackles from Mark Ubsdell and Lee Balchin.
Jack Hornibrook kicked with the wind to find touch. From the lineout Bognor launched an assault at the E&R try line only to be met by an equally-organised and disciplined defence.
Fortunately for Bognor, E&R struggled to clear their lines in the face of high wind and a strong Bognor set-piece. The front row of Graham Broome, Ubsdell and Joe Burns dominated the E&R scrum and, when the visitors elected to go for the lineout, Jacob Masters and Jack Tompkins snaffled most of their ball.
Eventually Bognor broke through. After big carries from the forwards and some hard work at the ruck the ball was spun wide. Quick hands from Bognor’s veteran centre Tom Watson fed hot-stepper Billy Toone who danced past the full-back to score. Conversion missed.
Bognor camped in the E&R half only to be continually frustrated by a combination of poor finishing and a well-drilled defensive effort. As the half drew to a close Bognor earned two penalties five metres from the E&R line.
Tompkins called for scrums. The Bognor pack barged through their opposition and their lofty captain flopped on to the ball for the simplest of scores. Conversion missed.
Coaches Martin Broome and Ron Outen asked their troops to up the intensity in the second half and to have faith in the processes they had put in place.
However, two silly errors from the kick-off saw E&R bag a try of their own. Tompkins fumbled the kick-off and E&R mounted an attack from the scrum. They shunted their way to inches short of the line before going over for a converted score.
A strong chase from Bognor saw Burns smash his opposite man and suddenly Bognor came to life. Landscape gardener Mike Page combined with fellow back-rower Ainsley Howard to get over the gain line. Riggall chipped some delicate cross kicks but wingers Hornibrook and Danny Passingham couldn’t quite get on the end of them.
Riggall himself finally crossed the whitewash after a series of hard phases from the forwards – his fourth of the year. Passingham coolly converted.
E&R began to tire and Bognor sought to take advantage. Giant centre Gareth Wyn-Jones was introduced and made an immediate impact with a thunderous tackle.
From a tap penalty Newcombe spun the ball wide and Jones combined with fellow centre Josh Burgess. The two made huge metres against a tiring E&R. Riggall collected an offload from Jones and gave a beautiful weighted pass to Passingham who finished superbly. Conversion unsuccessful.
Burgess came close to scoring soon after Jàmes Barlow charged down a kick but was adjudged to have carried the ball over the dead ball line.
This Saturday, get down to Hampshire Avenue for what promises to be a spectacular and early Christmas treat against Heathens (2.15pm).
BOGNOR: Broome, Ubsdell, B Burns, J Barlow, Masters, Balchin, Howard, Tompkins, Newcombe, Riggall, Gassingham, Burgess, Watson, Hornibrook, Toone. Greenslade, Page, Wyn-Jones.
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